Being Effective: Doing What Works


Have you ever had a deadline looming and you find yourself thinking about it but not working towards it?   Have you ever been spiteful in order to get back at someone (subtly) and ultimately, the behavior came back to bite you?  Do you mindlessly skip or knowingly avoid activities that you know are healthy for you such as consistent exercise or taking your vitamins?

If you find that any of the above behaviors are problematic for you, then learning to be “effective” can be a simple answer!

Being “effective” is a way of focusing your attention and energy on doing what works, rather than what is right or wrong.

Here’s an example.  This person was managing emotions and actions effectively:

“If I’m driving down the road and the driver of another car is trying to cut me off and cut ahead of me, I find it most effective to slow down and let the person move on. If I get caught up in the fact that I legally have the right-of-way and don’t allow the other car in front, I face the possible consequences of being in an accident or a victim of road rage.” www.dbtselfhelp.com

Understanding what it means to act effectively can have a great impact on your life. Simply slowing down to ask yourself, “Am I being effective in this situation?” can enough to keep you on track toward your goal of healthy thinking and living.

Here are a few simple steps in mastering being effective:

  • Identify long-term goals.  For example, “Pass my math class so I don’t have to attend summer school.”
  • Create very small and simple steps that you can accomplish on the way toward achieving this goal. For example, “Each day, I will complete all of my math assignments.”
  • Challenge any negative thinking that might be an obstacle on the path. For example, “Why does the teacher always assign work that has nothing to do with this week’s lesson” might be your automatic thought.  The challenge statement might be: “Even though this assignment doesn’t seem to connect to the lesson, I have to get it in to keep my homework grade up.”
  • Continue to keep your eye on your long-term goal and frequently ask yourself, “Is this action an effective choice?” If the answer is “no,” hit the mental pause button and then re-think your next steps.

Being effective might seem like a lot of work in the short run and it might be! However, it is well worth the effort as you will much more likely avoid negative consequences AND reach your goals.