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Strategic Thinking


Resolutions: How Full Is That Cup?

Posted by Nicholas Mayhew on 09/01/19 17:29
Nicholas Mayhew


Glass fullResolution is an interesting word.  Resolve means determination, but it also means solving or reconciling.

Within all of us there are competing needs and wants, which constantly come up and can get in the way of our best intentions.  The same is true in business and it is why work to resolve things is always needed.

At this time of year, the focus is often on personal fitness:  one part of us wants to eat chocolate and another part doesn't, one part wants to get out for a run, another part wants to stay in bed.  You know the form.

Ben is a young man with a rare illness.  It affects his digestion, creating constant IBS symptoms, which are unrelated to the food he eats.  A knock on effect is low energy, due to problems getting enough nutrition. 

Where many people, this time of year, focus on diets, drinking and fitness regimes, Ben has a constant struggle to eat more to find the energy for the day, and still needs a fitness regime.  Whereas many people find the social aspects of diet and fitness a trial, with his condition, the mental struggle includes not being able to be "normal" and having to explain it constantly.  He is optimistic, manages the condition well and is keeping fit.  He is doing well but privately still feels the stress keenly.

If we cannot resolve these paradoxes, we end up stuck, torn, and can feel negative about our inability to do something simple like stick to a regime, even for a few days.  It is not easy to be kind and encouraging to yourself if you feel useless. 

There is a danger for many that negative feelings can build into a negative belief about themselves, and turn into a label that identifies themselves with this (I hate my incapable body).  These beliefs are demotivating in their own right.

This made me think of the figure of speech cup half-full or cup half-empty.

Of course they are the same.  One simply has an added sprinkle pessimism and the other of optimism. 

It is less funny when this half and half state reflects being both cup full and cup empty at once.  "I really need to change things, but I cannot find the guts or or the self-discipline" is a bad place to be. 

Even worse is being "cup full" about two apparently contradictory needs, a stressful choice.

Think of the House of Commons and, perhaps, the whole of the UK.  We are either completely out or completely in of the EU, and stuck with an ugly middle way proposal that no-one will vote for.  Do you know people who feel like that about something in their lives?  I do.  And I feel for their anguished state.  Have you ever been there?  I do hope not, but all of us are like this at some time in life.

Cup full is clear and really committed.  An example would be if you are very motivated about your current work or relationship.  We would say you are ready to put your heart into it, and are likely to succeed by sheer dint of hard work. 

Cup empty is "out of here"; again it is clear.  If this is work, you have already decided to go.  We would say your heart just isn't in it.  You can't stay. 

Both at once is a torment as you dither, and your heart just hurts.  Even you know you are a mess, and everyone around you gets the mixed signals.

With this in mind here are my new year's resolution questions:

What are you cup full about in your life? 

What would fill it completely for you?

What are you cup empty about in your life? 

If you are ending something, what are you starting - what are you cup full about?  

Consider one an important area in life right now, where you feel torn.

What are you holding on to, and what do you need to let it go?

What does this state (being torn, but not deciding) tell you about yourself that you need to work on, to grow?

Often we need to find something deeper about us, behind the immediate situation, that is driving our need.  It can be worth the hard work to discover this in ourselves, as often we can find another way to serve the need, and this allows us to let go of something which is making us stuck.

Achieving our resolutions, oddly, can come down to letting go of what stops us.  Suddenly self-discipline appears where there seemed to be none before.  Focusing on doing the undoable rather than resolving our own conflicts, can make resolutions fail.

Do you know someone else that you could help with this?  Just letting them pour their heart out to you may be enough.

While considering this I also came up with a new way to lie to myself.

My earliest memories are from age 3 or 4; the clear ones anyway.  My own view is that this is related to the emergence of a sense of self, related to memory, and to a minimum level of language skills.  Anyway, I have decided that I am consciously just 47, way better than my birth measure of 50.  A happy self-delusion to warm a cold looking January.

Topics: Life Lessons, Personal Growth, Self Improvement, Emotional Intelligence, Energy

Cup half-full or cup completely full?

REsolving contradictions

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