Does it feel like it’s been a while since you’ve had a major win at work? While there are always ups and downs, nothing is permanent, even if it feels that way. Sometimes you are on top and the going is smooth; other times, you struggle to stay afloat. If you find it hard to believe that the fall will end and you need to hear it from someone else, reach out to a friend or teacher who can give you perspective. If you feel like you can’t win or move forward with a project, it’s time to adjust your thinking. Celebrate even the smallest wins. Remember that the smallest victory can get ahead of you. Trust your teachers and colleagues and keep the naysayers at bay. Over time, the cumulative effect of these positive actions will move you forward, and those small wins add up to big wins. Remember this Carry On reverse, although you are not sure when.
Social media makes it easy to see everyone’s wins. But if you’re in a phase where you’re struggling and it seems like you haven’t had your own victory for a long time, seeing happy LinkedIn announcements from friends and colleagues can feel painful. Maybe you used to be successful doing what you were doing — but now nothing is landing. If you feel like you can’t keep up with your work, it’s time to recalibrate, examine your thinking, and focus on activities that make you happy, rather than comparing yourself to others. Here are tips to keep going if you need a win.
Remember that this is a time.
There are always ups and downs; nothing is permanent, even if it feels that way. Sometimes you are on top and the going is smooth; other times, you struggle to stay afloat. There is no one “right” time. Remember that this period is just a bump and won’t last forever. If you find it hard to believe that the fall will end and you need to hear it from someone else, reach out to a friend or teacher who can give you perspective. Remember this Carry On reverse, although you are not sure when.
One of my clients keeps coming up with ideas HIM client, but never seemed to gain traction. Everything he focused on was passed. My client felt frustrated because he felt he could not get an idea approved; but he kept moving. My client decided it was a “grind time”; he learned to separate the results and just keep moving.
Celebrate a (small) victory.
You’ve probably heard it before: “celebrate the small victories.” But what if you feel like you’re not there whatever win, even a little? In their article “The Power of Small Victories,” Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer shared this: “When we think about progress, we often imagine how great it would feel to reach a lofty goal or experience a great achievement.” These big wins are great – but they’re pretty rare. If you’re looking for a small win and are about to come up short, try this: go smaller. List every detail of a recent work project. Who among them walked without hindrance? Which one is better than expected? Acknowledging even a small victory can change the trajectory of work and lift your spirits. A former co-worker decided to track his micro-wins. As time went on, he saw how little victory was being achieved. The result is that he feels more powerful and competent in his role.
Set firm boundaries around who you allow into your space.
Even co-workers and friends with the best intentions can cause you to doubt yourself. Think about which of your colleagues makes you feel good? Who takes the wind out of your sails? Set boundaries and be firm in avoiding people who put you down. In his article “The Emotional boundaries you need at work“Greg McKeown created a matrix by which people can determine their boundaries. McKeown writes: “To develop meaningful and mature relationships at work or at home we must develop BOTH filters. The first filter protects you from other people. The second filter protects other people from you.” It doesn’t mean you become a hermit; rather, it means that you spend time with people who make you happy (even if it’s just one person). Remember – you don’t have to have such hard boundaries forever. However, as you get back up, avoid the people who knock you down. That may also mean staying off social media for a while.
Forget gratitude; look at your strength.
Practicing gratitude makes you feel better and expands your view of what is right. However, when your spirit is weak, “being grateful” can feel a little more difficult. Instead of making gratitude lists, try this; at the end of the day, review your actions and appreciate what you did well. It could be something as simple as “I smiled at the barista today”; or, “I shared valuable insight at a senior leadership meeting.” Write at least three things a day. Over time, seeing your positive actions accumulate will build your sense of self-confidence and help propel you forward.
Appreciate what is right.
If you feel ineffective, you may think you should ACT one thing. But usually, no action is required. If you feel driven to ACT, check the impulse; instead, try sitting and doing nothing. I coach many clients to block off time on their calendars to do nothing. “Nothing” might mean sitting down and reading a fashion magazine to clear their mind. Or maybe it means sitting down and thinking about a meeting that went well last week.
The key is to quiet your mind and try to notice at least one thing that is right. If you’re not looking for the good, you’ll miss it and stick with the negative belief that “nothing is working for me.” Throughout the day, it’s easy to notice “dings,” or things that don’t seem to be moving in the right direction. Likewise, it’s easy to forget the quiet hum of everything else working as it should. Practice noticing – and writing – three things right, every day.
Look at the victories of others, but don’t embarrass yourself.
Sometimes you have to look outside of yourself at the triumphs of others. You don’t have to compare yourself and make a measuring stick for where you want to be; instead, use other people’s gains to improve your own. Use this mindset: “If that person can do that thing well, then I can too.”
I’m working with a client who loves watching motivational videos on YouTube. He watches Tom Brady montages on YouTube when he needs to “win” (ie, close the sale). My client used Tom Brady’s drive, motivation, and hard work to lift himself up and signal to himself: “I can win too.”
Broaden your horizons.
When you feel low, you may be inclined to seek and make the least amount possible. A better idea is to search paradigm-shift ways to challenge yourself. Nathan and Susannah Furr, authors of The Height of Uncertainty, share in their book the great ups and downs they experienced when they moved to France and learned to thrive in a new context, and how important it is to stop trying to control those risk. Instead, think about how you can create the conditions for positive change. When the Furrs are faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, they keep moving forward and looking for new possibilities.
If you feel like you can’t win or move forward with a project, it’s time to adjust your thinking. Remember that the smallest victory can get ahead of you. Trust your teachers and colleagues and keep the naysayers at bay. Over time, the cumulative effect of these positive actions will move you forward, and those small wins add up to big wins.