When we first took Baby J into our home last year, Lianna didn’t get any maternity leave or bonding time. She was fairly new at her job, and for foster care most companies don’t have any policies in place for family leave. From day 1, Lianna felt like she was missing out on time with J. I was at home learning the ins and outs of our new 6 month old, and Lianna was stuck at work.
The guilt and feeling of missing out kept nagging. Rather than taking time to work out and take care of herself on the weekends, Lianna felt that she needed every spare ounce of time and energy to spend on our little guy. I felt super guilty that I had more time with J during the day. Working out became less and less consistent, our diets slipped a lot, and now the guilt was mixed with low energy and just not feeling good.
We needed Lianna to work full time. Financially we were stable and finally starting to make headway towards a down payment for a house. Her full time job had wonderful benefits, great coworkers, and rewarding work, but it was holding her back from getting the quality time with J that she craved. Lianna quitting her job or going part time was just not an option.
We talked through our options, can came to our ideal scenario: Would it be possible for Lianna to go down to four day work weeks, to get a weekday at home with the Bub? We knew Lianna’s boss was very supportive, understanding, and flexible, but to Lianna it just seemed like too much to ask, at first.
There was always a reason not to have the conversation.
“I just started this new position.”
“It’s too busy at work now, maybe I’ll wait a couple months.”
“What if they fire me or something?”
“What if they say no?”
“What if my boss gets upset?”
When it comes down to it, as many of us do — we were avoiding a tough conversation, that we weren’t sure would go our way. So we kept the (unhappy) status quo for way too long.
Take a minute to think — what is the tough conversation you’re avoiding right now? We all have them. Maybe it’s a bad work situation. Maybe it’s a sticking point in your relationship with your significant other. Maybe your roommate drives you insane and you want them gone — but they’re your friend, so it might get weird.
Life is short. Too short to sit around hoping the situation will resolve itself.
So it’s time to take action. I learned this great process from one of the Two Brain Business mentors, Jason Williams.
Answer the following questions:
1. What is the uncomfortable situation I need to address?
Spell it out for yourself plainly — why is it making me unhappy, who would I need to talk to, and why am I afraid to go through with it? Example: Lianna wanted more time at home with J. Quality time with him was highly important to her but working full time, it was crushing her.
2. What is the realistic worst case scenario, if I initiate this conversation?
I’m sure you can think of some awful things that could happen. What would be the hardest outcome? What is the root of the fear holding us back from pushing for what we need? In Lianna’s example, the worst case scenario was getting terminated from her job.
3. How likely is that worst case scenario to happen?
When you think about it — you’ll probably realize that the probability of the worst case scenario happening is pretty low. Would Lianna’s boss really fire her for asking for a different schedule? Would she think less of her for wanting more time with family? Highly doubtful.
4. How would I recover if it happened?
This is planning for the worst, hoping for the best. If Lianna got fired, we’d find her a new part time job with a schedule that allowed her the time she needs. Would there be a tough period during the interim? Of course. But we would figure it out! You can also think through some of the other more likely outcomes, and how you would manage if those happened. Being prepared takes a lot of the fear and unknown out of the equation.
5. What is it costing me NOT to have this conversation?
This is a big one. Most people discount the cost of the status quo. They don’t take into account their current level of frustration, guilt, anxiety that they are experiencing, often every single day, all because they are avoiding a difficult conversation that may shake things up, or make things worse in the short run. It might be more than just feelings too — is it costing you time, money, or other resources?
Eventually Lianna had that tough conversation with her boss. Now she works a little longer Monday-Thursday, but she has Fridays off, and works for a couple hours from home during J’s afternoon nap. Friday mornings are just for mama & Bub now. This has lead to so much less guilt and FOMO, which has lead to Lianna staying strong with nutrition, and getting a third weekly CrossFit workout in on the weekends. The one uncomfortable conversation lead to a big life improvement. As I write this I’m getting Snapchats from Lianna of her and J at the park on a beautiful Friday morning, and my heart is full.
Here is my challenge to you: Go through this exercise for an uncomfortable situation in your life. I highly recommend talking through these steps with a friend or significant other who can help you see the various outcomes.
THEN…DO IT. Have that conversation. Start moving that “mountain” and realize it was really just a molehill.
Life is too short to tiptoe around and feel like a victim to your own life. Sometimes the only thing standing between your current situation, and an awesome situation, is one uncomfortable conversation. Every once in a while we get lucky, and everything falls into place just the way we wanted, without having to push. More often than not, it’s going to be up to you to make it happen.
It’s time for action.