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How to Stay True to Yourself – An Agenda Cleanse

Posted May 15, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Life After Five

There’s no doubt that cleansing is a hot trend in Hollywood and around the country these days. There are juice cleanses, fruit cleanses, veggie cleanses, and even strange sorts of “cleanses” where you eat all bananas one day, all steak the next. Whatever crazy or not crazy cleanse you’re on now, most of them center around what you’re eating or not eating. But there’s another kind of cleanse you might need to consider implementing in your life – an agenda cleanse.

Every month, when I get my O Magazine, I frantically rip it open and find Martha Beck’s article for that month. This month, she wrote “Staying True to You: 6 Steps to a More Honest Life.” In it, she recommends all of us complete what she calls an “agenda cleanse”, and after reading through her important steps in this cleanse, I think it’s as important if not more important as those health cleanses you might be thinking of.

I’m sharing with you here the first two steps in Martha Beck’s “Agenda Cleanse”:

Step 1: Pick an interaction, any interaction.

Think of something you plan to do in the upcoming hours or days that involves other people. It could be going to a coworker’s birthday party, putting in a day at the office, attending square-dancing class, whatever. We’ll call this interaction activity X.

Step 2: Ask yourself the actor’s question.

Keeping activity X in mind, ask yourself, What’s my motivation for doing this? Don’t spit out the first facile answer that comes to mind (Um, I have to?). Give it real thought, and be brutally honest. Your clarity—maybe a little piece of your sanity—depends on it.
There might be several reasons you’re planning to undertake activity X. Feel for the one that’s deepest. Maybe you’ll be attending the coworker’s birthday party because you sort of want to be there but also to be polite, and mainly because you want cake. You may go to work to earn money, and to feel important, but primarily to prove your worth to your parents. Perhaps you square-dance partly for love of the music, partly to show off your new Frye boots, but mostly because your friends just keep hounding you until you go. Pick the motivation that feels most true, your real bedrock reason.

Trust me, once you do these two steps, you’re going to want to complete the next four. It’ll only take a few minutes of your time, but you’ll walk away being more aware of your own agenda and being able to spend more time being authentic and true to yourself and less time feeling trapped or lost in your own agenda setting or excuse making. Do it, trust me, Do it.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."