Name it, Change it

change your life, find work you love

What’s in a name?

If you have something in your life you want to change, giving it a name is a powerful way to start.

Naming a problem helps us to identify the situation and to accept it.

For example, if you want to make get away from an all-consuming job and find work that creates better balance, you might call this “Project Freedom”.

This sums up the whole process in one neat parcel and keeps the motivation for change front and centre.

I thought I’d share an example of how by naming a problem, I’ve been able to shake off one of my worst habits.

“Stop Being an Arse”

Sometimes it takes the person who knows you best to really hit the nail on the head.

It all happened so suddenly, on the way home from a lovely vacation.

Standing in the arrivals hall, I’d set my mind on a BLT sandwich and a skinny latte.  In fact I’d been fantasising about this for the last 2 hours on the plane.

Then, a cloud over the sun.  My wife pointed out there was a train leaving for London in five minutes – “if we’re quick we can get on it.”

Plan in jeopardy, I just started chucking my toys of the cot.  A pathetic stream of grumbling, complaining and carping started to flow.

The reaction was totally irrational and childish (in fact most 3 year olds are past this kind of sulky nonsense).

After a good couple of minutes of footstamping, my wife summarized everything:

“You have to stop being an arse” (that’s British for ass).

Naming the issue

I like to think that I live with good intentions – to be a decent human being, treat others with respect, be positive and make the most of this life.

Most of the time I do ok with this.

Every now and then I have a moment when I let myself down.  I find the negative in a particular situation and like a dog with a bone I go to work on a big rant.

It’s not fair to those around me and I’m not proud of it.

In short, I can be an arse.

I guess it’s something I’d been vaguely aware of for a while.

Yet that day, I got a new name for the phenomena.  It became instantly recognizable.

In a great way, it’s also a name that instantly makes me smile.  And I can say to myself “Stop being an arse, Philip”.

The Change

Since that meltdown, things have changed.

I’m applying the “Don’t be an arse” rule when I feel frustration or anger starting to emerge.

I love the fact that this came from the person I love the most in the world too.  Sometimes other people can see more clearly than we ever can.

By naming the issue, the change has been much easier to make.

Over to you

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What name do / would you give to your biggest challenge?

How does / would that help you to change?

Has someone close to you helped you see yourself in a different way?

Please leave us a comment to share your thoughts.

Photo credit: Natalie Maynor (Flickr Creative Commons)

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  1. Two simple steps to change for good


  1. Phil
    November 23, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I learned that naming a challenge can help to change it. This works really well with a big audacious goal to achieve “Project Global Domination” as well. What challenges can you name and tame?

  2. JimF
    November 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    And to think we (your friends) spent so many years telling you this! Arf.

    Welcome to the ar$es club. I admitted my status years ago…


  3. Phil
    November 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Jim! Yes, you all tried for the longest time to point this out. At last, I’m proud to be in ar$es club.

  4. November 24, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil,

    My biggest challenge would be called


    I speak with passion in front of groups to save things – it can require pulling out all the stops, the ones more polite, dainty folks frown upon.

    thx j.
    Giulietta Nardone recently posted..Show Yourself Some Compassion

  5. November 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    You’re “Don’t be an arse” rule is simple and sticky.

    I find tagging things is a great way to get control over them and make them more actionable.
    J.D. Meier recently posted..Enjoy the Struggle

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