I give up. It’s not working.

How quick are you to give up?  You tried but it’s no good.   It’s not making a difference.

It happened to me last month.  To allow a wrist injury time to heal, I’d been instructed to wear a wrist brace 24/7 that immobilises my right wrist and thumb.  Guess what?  I’m right handed, have three children, my own business and a house to run.  Hello?? I need results!  Now!

So for the first week, I wore the brace most of the time but struggled to wear it at night.  Instead of using my right hand, I was clumsily chopping vegetables with my left hoping to still have all ten digits remaining on my hands by the time dinner was ready.  By the second week I’d already had enough.  It was getting in the way now, slowing me down.  Anyway my wrist was hurting more than it had before I wore the brace.  Clearly it wasn’t working.  I spent less and less time wearing it.

When I went back to the OT guess what?  She told me I HAVE to wear it 24/7 if I want it to get better.  She also rather tactfully made it clear to me I need to adjust my expectations around when the injury will recover.  So here I am now, arm in brace, typing very clumsily, hitting an embarrassing number of wrong keys but persisting all the same.

It got me thinking though.  Clearly I had an expectation that change would be pretty immediate and when it wasn’t, I was all too ready to give up.  In fact, I was creating reasons in my head why I should.  They’d given me the wrong splint.  The scan hadn’t picked up the full scale of the injury.  The ‘give up’ strategy was a whole lot easier than dealing with uncomfortable, difficult and challenging.  I could just stick with the pain I knew.

As an executive coach I frequently work with clients who are experiencing some sort of pain at work.  They tell me they want to develop behavioural flexibility; to learn, practice and build skills that will help them ease their pain and do their jobs better.  But often they too are all too quick to give up.

Perhaps we would do well to remember that our success in developing new workplace skills and habits to the point we can use them effortlessly and reap the benefits is no different to learning to write with your left hand when you’re right handed.  It takes effort, persistence and regular practice to teach ourselves to do things differently.  It requires us to tolerate short term pain for long term gain and to let go of the need for quick results for the benefit of longer term change and much improved results.  It also requires us to continually reflect, learn and adapt our strategy as we go.

So I’m committing to wearing my brace day and night and I’m using it as an opportunity to strengthen my fine motor skills in my left hand, even if it takes me longer to do my usual activities.

So I ask you.  What have you given up on too easily recently?  Next time you see an opportunity to improve the way you think or do things, ditch the excuses and give it a bloody good go.