Spring Clean Your Personality Too!
Of course we’re all familiar with the nature inspired reflex to remove, systematically and hopefully thoroughly, the physical clutter that fills our personal spaces. Our desks, bedrooms, laundry rooms and garages alike. But how many of us take the time to clear the mental clutter from our most precious area–our mind–is a much different story.
I’ll be the first to openly admit I have more than a few personality traits I need to purge, and purge now. This “mental spring cleaning” of the personality can actually be done anytime, but when better to do it than now? The flowers are starting to bloom again, my landscaper just called to schedule the first grass cutting, there’s more sunlight each day and the birds are singing beautifully in the morning. So let’s take this time to take stock of how our personality looks to those we interact with, and let’s make the pact to be better.
Here are a couple personality traits you might want to get rid of, along with some of that physical clutter; I know I do!
1. Being Judgmental or Overly Critical.
We each have something that we do, that we’re not proud of. We’ve all done things in the past that we wouldn’t necessarily broadcast to people we’re just meeting. Why, then, do we turn right around and bring attention to the next person for their faults? And I don’t mean just silently judge the person or chastise them under our breath. So many people go and talk to the next person instead of giving the person in question the benefit of the doubt, or giving that person the benefit of the doubt AND some feedback to help. Or do we not actually care about them? It’s much easier to just judge what the next person does that you don’t agree with, instead of being quiet, and/or initiating a conversation with this person to find out why they may have done what they did. Do this, but don’t judge them! People who are overly critical can, ironically, be among the worst at accepting their own faults, but have the nerve to talk about someone else. This doesn’t win you any friends. It actually makes you critical and hypocritical! Let’s eradicate this trait from our personalities today.
I don’t know about you, but I complain too much. I not only complain too much, but I complain about things that I can change, right along with things that I can’t. The irony, of course, is that I, like many people, are complaining about not just things we can actually fix, but that most things I/we, complain about, aren’t even real problems to begin with! I’m sure we’re all familiar with the notion of “First World Problems”, i.e. those things and situations that those people, primarily in America, complain about, yet don’t even exist in many other countries around the world. For example, if you’ve ever complained about being too cold in the summer or too warm in the winter, you’re a “first world complainer.” How about complaining about a traffic jam in your car after leaving the job you have. Or one of my kid favorites: complaining about WHAT they eat, not IF they eat. We must stop complaining about “first world problems.”
However, I’m not naive or callous enough to think all complaints and/or problems are invalid or laughable. To the contrary, I do think that most problems are solvable and that most of what we complain about, we have the power to actually fix. But when we complain yet not act, we’re not just moving backwards, we’re also doing the opposite of showing gratitude. We’re spitting on all the good in our lives, and it’s a really bad habit. Let’s stop complaining today and fix, with our hands, what we don’t like and not ever forget it could always be worse.
3. Not keeping your word.
This is a definitely a tricky one, because most people (although there are some) don’t set out to be deceitful with what they say or intentionally look to disappoint others. But what may start off as harmless can quickly turn into a more serious habit. That is the habit of overcommitting oneself. When this has happened to me, and what I’ve seen most often in others is that people will start this habit by saying yes to every request. You can not be productive in achieving your goals if this is your regular M.O. We must exercise discernment in what we commit our precious time to. Therefore, I’d much rather say no on purpose rather than disappoint someone by accident just because my desire to help or do something exceeded my actual capacity to do so. Failure to exercise this trait can cause irreparable damage to a person’s reputation, which we know is one of the toughest things to repair once broken. But say no, then when you say yes, you’ll have more time to commit to making whatever you took on great.
4. Being too hard on yourself.
Folks who want to succeed know how this feels. People who are driven towards success and who have goals can relate to this. We want everything perfect, and we want it that way right now. We beat ourselves up and don’t recognize all the small steps it took to reach the point where we are. As a wise man once said, “slow motion is better than no motion.” Whoever said that was very wise, indeed. Give yourself credit, check in routinely on where you are versus your goals and don’t worry about anything else. As long as you’re working on something related to your goals and dreams, you’re making progress!
5. Being unfocused & easily distracted.
This might be the one item on this list that I am directly speaking to myself on, as I write this. The constant pull to read this, or check that. Come here and go there. We must do a better of job of using the greatest, and today mostly secret, weapon of concentration. Fixating on an idea or task in our minds until it is done, and done well. Concentration is officially not just our greatest and most secret weapon we have against the fight for our attention spans, it is pretty much the only weapon we have left. This might feel or seem like a lonely existence. But I assure you it is the most fulfilling choice we can make, if we are serious about accomplishing what we say we want. Everything else is simply slowing us down.
Our closets are clean but our minds are full of junk. How much sense does that make? Take a moment and reflect while doing some #MentalSpringCleaning.
Sadiq Ali, MBA, is a speaker, trainer, professor, and author of Millionaire Manners: The Men’s (and Boy’s) Guide to Social Grace in the New Age and founder of Millionaire Manners Academy, a full service educational consulting and leadership training organization that teaches life and career success through great personal and professional etiquette.