11/20/2015 03:32 pm ET Updated Nov 20, 2016

The Lazy Way Out

Attention Editors: The Third Metric

Recently, one of my time coaching clients told me that although he knew intellectually that being self-compassionate was the way to improve, it felt hard to believe that without being self-critical he could muster the effort to change.

I love it when time coaching clients are honest with me because true authenticity is what can lead to true breakthrough. After pondering what he said for a while, I wrote him this message that I thought may be helpful to all of you who struggle with believing being gentle with yourself can and will lead to greater productivity:

"I thought a lot about what you were saying in regard to your resistance surrounding self compassion, and I realized that I needed to clarify this important nuance: Self-compassion is not apathy, denial, or rebellion. Self-compassion is about total self acceptance -- no matter what -- so that you can have a radical focus on action. Self-criticism is a non-productive emotion that leads to self attribution (I'm just a screw-up etc.) and then fear (I did this last time. I'll do it again.) This is actually the LAZY way out because it keeps you from productive self-analysis and action. Instead, you want to approach issues like a scientist (see Zooming in to Overcome Overwhelm in chapter 7 of my book). If you're late, ask yourself, what happened? what could I do differently next time? or simply ask the 5 Why's? i.e.
  1. Why was I late? I woke up late.
  2. Why did I wake up late? I was up late.
  3. Why was I up late? I procrastinated on an assignment.
  4. Why did I procrastinate? I wasn't clear on what to do.
  5. Why wasn't I clear? Because I hadn't written down the steps.
Which... then leads to the action of realizing writing down the steps on assignments is the key to being on time the next morning. If it helps, think of me being your inner time coach who says to you: I'm here for you. I won't criticize you, but I will ask what happened and work with you on strategies to make it different next time. I hope that helps clarify the issue for you. Being self compassionate isn't about letting you off the hook or saying things don't matter. It's about saying, I'm not going to waste time beating myself up because I need to get busy taking action on what I can do."

About Real Life E®
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through training programs.

McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review recently published her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Lifehacker, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.