The Happiness Connection  

View from the middle

Everything looks like a failure in the middle. – Kanter’s Law

I stumbled upon this nugget of wisdom while I was searching for a topic for this week’s column. I don’t know how it found me, but it was just what I needed to see.

If you read my column last week, you will know that I left you with some great advice for those times when life threatens to drown you:

  • breathe
  • remember you are a survivor, not a super hero
  • be kind to yourself.

I woke up last Sunday morning and repeated all those things to myself.

Then, I ventured into the basement to see just how much still needed to be done before we listed our house that afternoon. It was worse than I remembered.

It didn’t help that I was still suffering from the flu and found breathing a challenge.

I’m not a quitter, but I was discouraged to the point of throwing in the de-cluttering towel. I seriously wondered how much the house would be worth if I didn’t do anything more to get it cleaned out and looking respectable.

Kanter’s Law described exactly how I felt. I had two floors looking good, but the final one seemed like one floor too many.

I was a long way from the optimism that comes at the beginning of a project, and completing it seemed like a fading hope.

I wanted to share how I felt last weekend, because I think there is a great deal of value in knowing what to expect when you tackle a big project. If you know that feeling defeated may creep into your psyche when you near the middle, you can prepare yourself for it.

I wasn’t consciously aware of these three tips until I looked back on my experience and realized that they built themselves into my project.

Build milestone celebrations into your plan

We took breaks throughout the weekend and even stopped early on Saturday.

This isn’t my normal way of approaching tough work. I like to power through. I simply wasn’t well enough to do that in this instance.

I think having to change my approach was a blessing in disguise. My husband doesn’t appreciate my philosophy of work before play. We sprinkled a lot more play – in my case rest – through the weekend.

Everything still got done, but it was less exhausting. I plan to build more mini celebrations into my work schedules in the future.

Give yourself some flexibility

Don’t create a plan that is too rigid. Course correction is the key to many projects getting completed successfully.

I had originally planned to list the house at the beginning of the weekend, but when I lost several days of work to illness, I chose to move the deadline to Sunday afternoon.

We also took a few short cuts and put a few things away to be dealt with at a future date.

This made very little difference in the grand scheme of things, but allowed us to complete our project instead of giving up.

Focus on what you’ve done not what you still have to do

Gratitude goes a long way when times are tough. Appreciate how far you’ve come.

I found it oddly reassuring when I happened upon Kanter’s Law. I guess misery really does love company.

I have several more, big projects ahead of me and knowing that I’m likely to feel discouraged in the middle will change how I approach them.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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