I wish I had this perspective earlier in my career and life, it would have been less stressful and happier at times. It was not until I left “corporate world”, and took some time to reflect on life and where I had been and where I wanted to go, that I it became clear…I probably create the majority of the stress I felt over the years.
Nothing opened my eye to this more than an email I recently got back from a potential client. I had replied to an email after what I felt was an unacceptably long time. I have always held myself to high expectations to return emails promptly. In this case…things happened, and I failed; however, I was really taken back by the response that said, “Thank you for getting back to me so fast!”
After the exchange I have noticed that people don’t notice all the ways you have supposedly disappointed them. Many of these thoughts of failure and stress are driven by me – not reality. My learnings from this are that many of my “must do” activities really are not. My self-imposed deadlines and priorities differ from the clients I am now engaging with.
Looking back, I can vividly see many examples where I spent tremendous time and effort on tasks, only to be met with less than enthusiastic responses. I could have given myself more leeway and in fact potentially eliminated some of them altogether, and the world would have continued just fine.
Nothing galvanized this more than an experience with one of our children coming home for summer break from college. I found my wife stressing out and emotionally upset every time she would venture past our child’s room. As you can imagine clothes we all over the floor, even the clothes that were recently washed and folded were thrown about. The neat orderly world had suddenly come crashing down with what appeared to be a total disaster. My wife ended up just closing the door asking our child to keep it closed and they were responsible for their own laundry. Fast forward, the child never left the house in dirty clothes, friends did not know the condition of the room and in fact when they returned to college you could not tell they had been there for the summer.
I think many times we should hold ourselves responsible for feeling busy and overwhelmed. If it takes a day or two to respond to an email, if the laundry gets put away or not the world will not come crashing down. It is really the fear of your own discomfort that is holding you back.
I recently read a book that talked about keeping a journal of all the activities that bring you energy and happiness and those that are the “energy vampire”, draining our energy and emotions. After the list was completed the employee stopped doing the draining activities. It turned out that her other coworkers didn’t even realize she had stopped doing half of her previous responsibilities and she was happier.
The reality is that you cannot eliminate all the activities you don’t like particularly in the workplace. However, by identifying those activities that are not working for you, you can limit the amount of time you spend on them.
I believe that everyone lives in their own little world. We believe our faults and deficiencies take up more space in the world than they really do. If we can shake off these misconceptions, you might find yourself happier liberated to do what really matters to you.
I would love to provide you with the support and encouragement to be more in control and relaxed…as a professional, and as a person. At OpEx Realization Group, I/we can be of support and as we put it “be in your corner”. Connect with us…don’t wait!