Are You Enjoying the Process?

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There are few things more wonderful than knowing where you want to go and being on the path to getting there.
–Earnie Larsen

As I said in 2007–A Year of Adventure, I want to continue becoming more stress-hardy. I had a good chance to practice this past week, trying to resolve an insurance issue. It has been going on for seven months now, and when I last tackled the issue weeks ago I had a partial success. By last Thursday I had given them enough time to do something, and it was time to give another nudge. That, of course, meant time-consuming interactions with automated voices asking for information, being put on hold for long periods, and dealing with agents who weren’t trained to deal with the problem in question. Patience with bureaucracy has never been my strong suit, so it was a great chance to devise a better method of dealing with it. And that was the key…focusing on my own performance rather than letting my mood depend on how this interaction turned out.

Mainly I wanted to avoid getting frustrated at the time I was wasting on the problem. Putting it more positively, I wanted to use that time wisely and to enjoy the process as much as possible. Once I framed the situation that way, finding a good strategy was easy.

So I got out the necessary paperwork, including my notes from previous transactions, and I used my speaker phone so I didn’t have to hold the receiver while waiting on hold. I also made myself a cup of tea and opened Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m reading about her stay in Italy, where she spends her time in self-indulgence. That’s not usually my thing, but it was a quick way to stop thinking in terms of efficiency. And for me giving up the idea of speed and efficiency is the only way to deal with bureaucracy.

Very simply, I turned the waiting time into a mini vacation, and I used the interaction with the agent as an exercise in being friendly but firm…she wasn’t able to handle it on her level so I patiently persuaded her to talk to someone higher up. That meant a lot more time on hold, but I may have gotten this particular problem resolved. I should know in a few more weeks.

Whether or not that happens this time around, it was a successful learning experience. The next time I need to negotiate a corporate or government maze, it will hopefully be easier for me to remember that it’s my decision whether or not I waste my time feeling frustrated. Next time I might spend the waiting time doing something productive instead of taking a mini vacation, but it’s important that I enjoy whatever I choose to do. Because that’s the most effective way I have of motivating myself…to enjoy the process.

What about you? Do you ever waste your time feeling frustrated? How do you motivate yourself to do things? Do you ever have conflicts between what you want to do and what you “should” do? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments section.

Picture by Aggarwal_Gopal via Flickr. Creative Commons license.


Robert Hruzek at Middle Zone Musings is having a series on What I Learned From 2007. For my contribution for Transforming Stress click here.
 

Thanks to bikehikebabe for commenting on the last week’s post.

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4 Responses to Are You Enjoying the Process?

  1. Bob says:

    Dealing with something like insurance certainly is an exercise in handling stress, and it sounds like you performed admirably. Sadly, if I were in your position, I don’t know if I would have fared so well. Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective with us!

  2. Jean says:

    Bob,
    :) Unfortunately I’ve had a lot of practice. I once made the mistake of paying a provider because the insurance company was so slow. The woman at the provider’s office said there would be no problem in getting my money back once they got paid. It didn’t quite work out that way. It took me 18 months to get reimbursed because they lost track of the check after they got paid. They couldn’t do anything until I could get the insurance company to provide a copy of the canceled check. Needless to say, that was not an easy process. I told my husband I must not value my time very highly for seeing that one through. It was great practice in keeping my cool and remembering I was interacting with fellow humans, though.

    Thanks for coming by!

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  4. bikehikebabe says:

    These are examples of using time well & being creative:
    I like doing email. While waiting for computer to boot, I do a leg & shoulder stretch. My sewing machine is next to computer, so I sew while waiting for email. My friend’s sister died & I’m making over her x-large sweat shirts into size 4. I eye-ball the shirt & start cutting away to the the size I want. I don’t need any more shirts, but I love doing it.

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