Recently I did an InstaLive with a fellow coach. I was highlighting how helpful it can be for parents to take a moment before the holidays and choose what habits they want to keep going.
‘Thank you, a planner as always, Kathy.’ Suzanne said lightheartedly as we wrapped up.
Birth of a Thought
Aha! A thought was born. Something I learned in my coaching training.
We were talking in two different languages, from two complete different motivation points. Suzanne uses the Reactive Strategy more and I use the Proactive Strategy.
She reflected on how letting go and letting ourselves off the hook is ok. ‘Take it for what it is and enjoy the moments.’
I was sure that with a moment of thought in advance parents could get more from their summer for themselves. Both approaches have merit.
This isn’t about being right, or which one of us has the ‘better’ approach. I have great respect for Suzanne’s model of the world, I have a lot to learn about how she uses her strategy.
What’s useful for any of us is noticing how we are and where we are different.
Activated Towards Goals
There are many ways to understand ourselves. This one is simple and handy. What is your approach to a situation? Are you activated towards a goal? (towards pleasure? Are you future focused?
Do you use the word ‘I’ in describing situations, putting yourself into the center of the experience? ‘I want… I think that…’ (Associated)
Is your motto: Fail to plan, plan to fail? Are you known for being a planner? If so, you primarily use a Proactive Strategy.
Activated by Obstacles
Are you activated by an obstacle? (away from pain) Do you use the word ‘it’ to describe a situation: ‘It’ll be grand! Leave it with me.’
Do you see the situation from a wider vantage point, a few steps away? (disassociated)
Are you focused in the present moment?
Is your motto: ‘The best laid plans fall by the wayside.’ Then you may lean towards the Reactive Strategy.
This is ridiculously helpful to notice. The next step is paying attention to where it serves you and where the other strategy would be more helpful.
Years ago when I learned this I noticed something.
I found that I was so deeply entrenched in being future focused I didn’t actually show up for the moment I planned for. I was too uncomfortable.
I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I kept missing being present. And it sucked.
More Joy in Life
Learning to practice the Reactive strategy (in the moment) has created much more joy in my life.
My motivation came when I understood that when I let go of planning, the unplanned brought magical connected moments.
This week I was chatting with another mother (who uses the proactive strategy) and she told me a story of a driving game she did with her kids. The same game I discovered with mine that uses the Reactive strategy.
Is it Right or Left?
It was during one of the lock-downs last year. I was going batty being in the house. I put the kids in the car with no real idea where we were going. The only thing I’d planned was to put a letter in a postbox that we had to drive to.
Once this task was complete I asked the kids to pick a direction, left or right. They took turns and I drove them wherever they directed. They quickly got excited. We drove near Barna, through Salthill, into Galway city and back again. No purpose, no destination. We never left the car. There was lots of laughing, excitement and fun.
Open to Curiousity
It was great! I find when I’m using a Reactive strategy, moments like these are born. I loosen control and it’s grand!
Perhaps this has struck a chord. One or the other feels right to you.
However you are, notice it. If your dominant strategy is not working for you in certain situations be open to getting curious and conscious. Learn how to do things differently.
None of us are JUST one way. The more curious we are about how we are the more likely we can discover what we need to support our best selves.
That’s the beauty of being human. We’re complex, ever changing, ever growing.
Curiosity is the key.
About Kathy Murphy
Kathy Murphy is a Life Coach and founder of Connected Coaching and a contributing writer to the Maine Valley Post.
She believes change can be fun.
Grounded confidence, time, and momentum are extremely possible AND you don’t have to do it alone. Find a new way to look at the world with the support you need.
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