Whenever I’ve wanted to get to grips with an extreme behaviour, such as over-working (well I was ‘diagnosed’ as a ‘Responsible Workaholic’ after all), I’ve noticed that at some point my behaviour swings the other way entirely before finding a middle ground.
Take running for example – I like to run; I used to think I had to do an 8 or 10 mile circuit or there was no point leaving the house! Now I decide when I’m going to run and how far once I know how I’m feeling. Choosing a regular day and time takes away any anxiety about when I might fit it in; donning my running shoes and setting off takes away the pressure of having to commit to a certain distance. Now, more often than not I run a 6 mile circuit because I’m focussed on how I feel rather than on the distance to be travelled.
Experience has taught me that our ‘all or nothing’ behaviour is forced because we’re trying to make ourselves do something we really don’t want to do or in a way we don’t want to do it.
In the workplace, this inconsistency in our behaviour can be confusing and off putting for people since they don’t know where they stand. If, for example you’ve received feedback that you hide away in your office and staff find you unapproachable; and you act on that by walking the floor every day, you’re going to arouse suspicion; particularly if you’re stood over their shoulder every time they turn around! People will question what you’re up to and will stop trusting you.
So, my invitation to you is this:
When you become conscious of a skills gap, recognise the tendency to over-compensate and over-do the new behaviours;
Let people know what you are doing and why so that they can be supportive;
Once you’re comfortable, moderate the behaviour and make it a part of your weekly routine.