Monday, June 1, 2009

The Secret (and Cool) Art of Losing Steam

I see you. You sit down at your office today and realize that you no longer cared as much as you used to. You lost steam.

You feel like a driftwood today, and you are concerned about which beach the waves will bring you. Don't worry. You're bound for the Caribbean :) (Photo Credit: 'Driftwood' by Peter Mulligan)

Just a few months or few years ago, many things used to agitate you into passionate action -- the sales target, the complaint from a client, the morale of your team, the decision that you badly need from the management, the aggressive competition, and many more.

But today, you just don’t care! Not overtly of course. You go through the motion of doing things … but the spark has simply gone and you feel it.

Today, your realize that the indifferent feeling has lingered for weeks. Nothing seems to excite you anymore, not even the new designation “Manager” or the “bonus” or whatever perks granted to you. Well, there was excitement of course, but they wore out quickly.

In short and simple words, whatever you do is no longer as satisfying.

If you cannot relate with all these then perhaps there’s no need to read on.

But if you happen to be going through this stage in your life right now, then this post is perfect for you.

Let me tell you why.

Losing steam is normal. Look around and you’ll see that this is happening to people. So, here’s my immediate advise:

#1. Take a deep breath and relax.

Don’t panic. You’re ok, and you’re going to be ok. Think of the first time you visited the dentist as a kid.

Yes, this may mean other people may have to bear with you at this point. But don't try to please them. Instead, pay attention to what's happening inside you.

#2. Take time out to be yourself.

I don’t know how you’d do this, but this definitely involves slowing down several notches and be a bit more spontaneous. Have a few days break and do nothing pre-planned. Allow yourself to glide.

Why is that?

Slowing down is usually the only way to take off the blinkers on your eyes and appreciate the bigger picture. Zooming out may be the only way to find out what you’re missing.

#3. Reflect on this quote:
"Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased." — Jiddu Krishnamurti
I can choose to dump you with possible reasons why you have lost steam. Indeed I can count at least four in my mind right now. There are also several links in the internet that can help you deal with each one.

But I sincerely don’t think they would help you at this point.

Let me explain.

First, losing steam is not a disease or a psychological disorder that requires a prescription. Let me repeat this: losing steam is normal. You do not need a prescription.

Second, the answers cannot precede the question.

That leads me to the next advise.

#4. Gently ask questions

What is it you really want? What is it that really makes you tick? What is it that makes you jump out of the bed every morning with boundless excitement?

You may have other questions in your mind. Ask them!

Don’t demand for answers at this point. Just float the questions. Let them simmer in the background.

The mind of man is a wonderful computer, greater than any that has ever been created. When you ask something, it searches all the folders in your terrabytes and terrabytes of memory -- the subconscious mind.

But you already know that, don’t you? This time, don’t just know about it. Use it!

#5. Listen to answers

A lot of times the answer comes in the form of inspiration. Sometimes the answer comes in the middle of the night, in the middle of your sleep. Sometimes they come from someone’s word, or by looking at something, or by listening to a particular sound.

The process of listening can take days, or weeks, or months, or even years. People call this many names, like soul searching, discernment or introspection. The name isn’t important. The key thing is listening.

There are hindrances to listening that you should be aware of. One of them is guilt. Another one is unexpressed anger. I would write more about them in future posts.

But take your mind off these hindrances and just focus on listening.

#6. Record the answers

Yes, write them down, or type them somewhere -- your phone, your computer, on a piece of paper. If it’s a page in the internet, bookmark it or download it. Download Freemind or Mindnode and connect the different ideas that float in your mind.

They could be verses, or pictures, or music, whatever. They resonate to you. You feel like they say something to you ... just grab them.

#7. Act on the answers

Answers come as inspirations, remember? Act on the inspiration. it can be telling someone something, doing something you’ve always longed to do no matter how inconsequential.

Where will all these lead to? I have no idea. But neither do you, would you believe that?

But one thing is certain -- this process will take you to yourself, to a greater alignment with who you are.

Borrowing the words of Morpheus (The Matrix) ...
"I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it."

Isn't it cool to be like Neo today?

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