There’s been a lot on my plate lately – professional changes, things not going exactly as planned, needing to pivot and scrap plans without much notice, hard decisions having to be made with which direction to head in. But even as I type this out, the voice inside my head says very calmly, “that’s life, that’s work.” And isn’t it true? Whether you horribly love your current situation or currently despise it, there will always be ups and downs, things to complain about, obsess over, stress about. If you let things build up and don’t take action.
Hear me out….this isn’t a unicorn and rainbows rant about loving wherever you are in the journey and seeing the good in every situation. Ok, maybe it is, but here’s what I would suggest instead of festering over it, complaining incessantly about it or worse, letting it take over your life. Take action on it. Make a plan to conquer the complaints with concrete steps forward. And be honest with yourself about these things. Often times I’ll think, well I’m just venting…only to catch myself talking about the same thing over and over in my head, to a friend or Mike (who will call me on it every time). I’ve come to the realization over the past few years that being honest with yourself about the items you’re mulling over is really the first step – and once you’re there you can take action. Sounds so easy in theory…I’m saying this mostly to myself, who has felt lost a bit lately, overwhelmed and anxious in some of my current situations. Here’s what I’d suggest you do (and what I am in the process of doing):
- Write them down. Think about all of the concrete things in your current situation that are getting on your last nerve. List them out on a notepad, in a column or spreadsheet. Getting them out of your head, in black and white will often stop the swirl and allow you to see them as actual things to be dealt with, as opposed to concepts that you keep brushing aside.
- Solution brainstorming. Once you have your list of complaints, think about solutions; real, tactical things you can do to improve the situation. Example: Problem: It’s so loud in my workspace, I can’t get any work done! Solutions to Try: Bring in headphones to listen to music, move your space (if possible), have an actual conversation with your co-workers about the noise. MIND BLOWN!
- Begin each day with gratitude. Last year I read the book The Power of Less by Leo Babauta that spoke about bringing a gratitude practice into your day. When I sit down in the morning and write out three things I’m grateful for, my thoughts are now pointed on a positive trajectory. It’s such a simple exercise that has immediate and lasting impact.
- Get outside. When I’m in a yuck mood, or just spinning in the same direction over the same problem, I literally need to get outside as soon as possible to be in the open. Movement allows stagnant energy to get shaken up. While this may not solve any problems, it puts my headspace in the right place to handle the situation calmly and often will give me a new perspective.
- Remove yourself from the situation. Let’s be honest, sometimes the one thing you can do to improve a situation is to leave it. Knowing when this point has been reached can be tricky. A few signs I’ve come to recognize include losing sleep, self-doubt, and arriving at the same unpleasant outcome, despite different approaches. This step can seem like giving up, especially if you don’t have a post-situation plan. I’d caution that getting to this step should be work; you have given a valiant effort towards making things work, they haven’t, so you have made steadfast steps to improve your situation by moving on.
Hope these steps are useful – I have to remind myself of them every now and then!
Happy Action to You!