Most of us are in up and down businesses or have cyclical results in our roles. Learning how to ride the roller-coaster of the highs and lows is key to long term success. Part of successfully riding the ups and downs is learning how to change our inner and outer dialogue. If you are struggling in work (or life) and beating yourself up at the same time, you will dig a deeper ditch for yourself to climb out of to get back on track. Words like “I can’t get anything to go right” or “nothing is working lately” will only serve to reinforce the negative results. Instead of wallowing in the pits of despair try a new approach when you are in a work slump.
1. Acknowledge the emotion you are feeling - Emotions are like messengers. They will keep knocking on your door until you acknowledge them. They serve an important purpose in helping guide you and denying them will only serve to keep them bugging you. There are no “bad” emotions. Both positive and negative emotions exist for good reasons. You cannot FAKE a happy state and nor should you. But to transition to a more positive state you first need to honor and acknowledge your negative emotions like frustration, anger and disappointment so you can transition to a new feeling.
2. Change your self-talk from defeat to hope or even victory. Instead of saying “it seems like I will never get a positive result” say to yourself and out loud something like “I haven’t got accomplished what I had hoped for with my efforts, but I know that positive results will come soon”.
3. Look at your habits carefully and make changes - Do you get up late evry day and run out the door stressed and frantic? Do you find your energy dipping throughout the day and grab for sugar or caffeine only to find it makes you grumpy and irritable? Does your focus wander when you try to multi-task? Does your output suffer at times throughout the day when you lack energy, focus or enthusiasm? The list could go on and on… When you feel like your work is not at its best, be your own coach or hire a coach. Upgrading your habits will help create more success. As Aristotle once famously said “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
4. Build your Emotional Intelligence muscle - Do you create animosity unintentionally with coworkers or clients that you aren’t aware of because you are not paying attention to what is going on around you? Getting more success simply by listening better, acknowledging others emotions and managing your own emotions is not only possible but probable. According to Dan Goleman, the man who brought EI mainstream attention with his many books “If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
5. Renew yourself with a break. If you keep getting the same results despite a consistent effort, you may need to step back and take a short break. If you can’t afford a week away at an all-inclusive, consider a day off to get a massage or even stay home with a book to reflect and recharge or even a long hike outside. To break a pattern sometimes you need to stop for a moment and focus on something different. Many great scientists found that when they kept dwelling on the problem in their workshop, they remained “stuck” but simply by taking a long walk or even going to bed, the solution or a new idea would appear spontaneously in their minds or even their dreams. We are capable of much when we allow our creative brain to help problem solve and stop relying only on our rational mind. Even a short break to mediate and get calm and centered can inspire new success.
The reality is that no one has constant success. With all the uncertainties of the business world today, much can and will go wrong. The trick is the minimize the scary downward ride by learning to work more effectively and more wisely (using both technical and AI skills and people management and EI savvy) so you spend more time celebrating success.
Here are some inspirational quotes below to write down or read when you need encouragement:
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it." Maya Angelou
"In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm...in the real world all rests on perseverance." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Thomas A. Edison
"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will." Vince Lombardi
"Champions keep playing until they get it right." Billie Jean King
"Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don't have the strength." Theodore Roosevelt