The promotion goes south. Someone else walks away with the contract you worked hard for. The project is canned AFTER you put in long hours. We all have those moments when what we want is just NOT working the way we planned. That’s the time to shake it off and shake it up.
Here are 10 things I ask my clients to try:
- Take a break. A walk, a trip to an art museum or lunch with a friend can breathe new life into your long workweek, give you something to smile about despite that rejection or give you a fresh perspective when things are rough.
- Simplify. Baby steps count! I know people who have completed college degrees in three years and others who took seven years, but it’s the same degree. If a big leap isn’t possible, make smaller moves in the direction of your dreams.
- Talk to yourself. Is there something else going on with your current plans? Do you have a fear or doubt about your ability to achieve that goal? Is that goal as important to you today as it was when you first hatched it? Is this really your goal, or someone else’s goal for you?
- Do it anyway! Honor your feelings and pay attention to your needs. After all, most people will understand if you have a family emergency or come down with the flu. But there are some things that you just can’t reschedule. To finish that project, pay those bills or send off that cover letter, you may just have to plug away even if it means keeping tissues handy for tears or screaming into a pillow.
- Ask for help. Turn to someone supportive or delegate to someone who specializes in an area you find draining or time-consuming. You can’t do everything or be everywhere. When my children were in diapers, I had a young woman come over just to play with them and get them down for a nap, so that I could do some marketing and promotion work from home.
- Give up. Well, not everything and not forever… let’s just say for an hour or two. Take a long shower or stay in your PJs and watch a sappy movie that will make you cry or laugh, whatever helps get you back in a productive mood.
- Take a (virtual) trip. Look at yourself from a helicopter view and ask from a distance, “Is this pesky detail really as important as it seems with my hands in it?” Or try a time travel filter. When I look back 10 years from now, will this project still deserve so much heartache?
- Sleep on it. There are times when I have stayed up late finishing a project, revising an article for a magazine or just plain old fretting. The next morning I am bleary-eyed and the report is riddled with mistakes from the late night hours. It would have been better if I had gone to bed at a decent time and set my alarm a bit early.
- Check your resources. Are you trying to do too much with too little? There is a saying that goes, “If all you have is a hammer, you are going to treat everything as if it were a nail.” So, take a look at your resources, time, skills, knowledge, experience and manpower….Do you have enough of the right stuff? I often encourage clients to find or create a spreadsheet, revise their shopping list and update a skill, knowledge or experience through training or volunteering. Of course, ask for help or mentoring if you need more muscle, brainpower or direction.
- Celebrate often. Now, I am not one of those people who believes that everyone should get a trophy or a ribbon. Awards should be for excellence, hard work and extreme effort. With that in mind, I like to help my clients breathe in the joy of their best accomplishments (big or small) and feel grateful for their progress. We need to recognize our victories without the party or the trophy — with our own eyes and in light of what is most important to us.
Your life and career will ebb and flow, sometimes gently, sometimes in a wild surge. It is so very important to recognize that we are not in control of every outcome, and when life knocks us down, we must get back up, take a deep breath and take the next step.
Good luck and remember, you don’t have to make this journey alone.