Tomorrow is another day
I know I’m not alone in having a bumpy start to the year. I’ve been poorly on several fronts and am just starting to see the light again.
I’ve found myself getting incredibly frustrated with myself because there have been things I wanted to achieve and, whilst I’ve tried to keep beavering on, there have been times when I just haven’t been in a fit state – my husband has had to tell me to down tools and rest.
The voice in my head has been having a field day. It’s been berating me for not doing enough, for wasting time – a month gone without, in my opinion, “enough” (notice the judgement!) to show for it.
What about you? Perhaps you’ve been sick too and struggling to fire on one cylinder, let alone all of them. Perhaps you made some resolutions or set some goals for 2020 and you’re feeling disappointed in your progress.
So here are some of my learnings for dealing with an interruption to normal service:
Don’t trust your head. The negativity bias which is our evolutionary bias means that we constantly need to be vigilant for negative thoughts about what we have or haven’t done or about what may or may not happen.
When we’re unwell, our negative thinking can go into overdrive and we can lose our perspective about our situation. One study shows that low mood and muddled thinking go hand-in-hand with having a cold, for example.
Which means it’s important to decide not to make decisions when you’re not at your best. Your perspective on the world is distorted, likely for the worse, and you’re not in the best place to make sound judgements.
We cannot control everything. We are human. We are not robots. We get sick. It can be hard to accept when we haven’t got the resources to drive through our timetable.
As the Serenity Prayer puts it, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” Sometimes we just need to stop and hole up until we’re ready to carry on.
Know you can refocus and recommit. I was speaking to a coaching client the other day who was beating himself up for not having followed through on commitments he made in November around shaping the next phase of his career. He was doubting whether his strategy was the right one and worrying about how to move forward.
When we explored this, it turned out that he was giving alot of credence to negative thoughts in the context of a challenging time where life events – and sickness – had temporarily derailed him.
Actually, his strategy was just fine and all he needed to do was refocus and recommit to the habits he had started.
As Vivien Leigh said in Gone with the Wind, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Alison Reid helps new Directors focus on what matters, communicate with impact and stay calm and effective under pressure so they can lead themselves and others to great results. She's the author of Unleash Your Leadership : How to Worry Less and Achieve More. Download an extract or buy the book.