Have you ever wanted to just give up? Throw in the towel, say, “I’m done,” and go get a job flipping burgers somewhere?
That was me last Friday.
I had a busy day with lots of appointments, errands, and, oh yeah, client work!
The day actually started out just fine—exercised first thing in the morning, and my job went well. But by dinner I was a mess: overwhelmed, drained, and with a very dim outlook of my future.
It didn’t occur to me until this morning what happened.
It was small annoyances throughout the day that kept piling up until I felt like nothing would ever go right again.
The first one happened at the AAA office, where I’d gone to renew my license. I arrived a few minutes before my appointment with all my paperwork at the ready. Then I sat…and waited…and everyone ahead of me had some sort of problem or complicated transaction that took twice as long as it should. 45 minutes later it was my turn. “No big deal,” I thought. “It just happens. Glad I got to cross this off the list.”
Then…I drove a family member to an appointment for a blood test. We showed up and they told us, “Oh, we can’t do this type on a Friday.” Okaaay…we’ll just reschedule.
Then…I had an important Zoom meeting and I forgot to plug in my webcam, which meant my audio was not the greatest, either.
These are only some of the items, but you get the picture!
Taken by themselves, everything that went “wrong” was small and easily dealt with: patience (and an Internet connection) at the AAA office, rescheduling blood work, apologizing to my colleague and making sure I connect my webcam in the future.
Each is a pain in the neck, but nothing that should have thrown me off my orbit.
There are a ton of analogies I could use: a frog in boiling water, death by a thousand cuts, the straw that broke the camel’s back, etc.
But what caused the overwhelm? How do I get over it quickly? And how do I stop it from happening in the future?
The root cause is this: I wasn’t paying attention.
I was busy, only thinking about the next item on my to-do list. I wasn’t mindful. I wasn’t guarding my own mindset.
I let each of these annoyances chip away at my attitude until there I was at dinnertime, feeling like a failure, wishing I could drown my sorrows in a gallon of ice cream.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize what happened until the morning.
When I woke up I took some time to reflect on the previous day. What did I do yesterday? When did I start to feel overwhelmed? Did anything actually devastating occur?
Putting all these pieces together, it started to make sense. Everything that happened was an outside influence—a bit of a Murphy’s Law day. And once I figured that out, my attitude started to change.
It’s easy to get caught up in our day and not pay attention to the input that could be chipping away at our attitude. And a poor attitude can bring our self-confidence down.
Meeting re-scheduled at the last minute? Not a big deal—just reschedule. Someone misunderstands your email? Give them a call to talk about it. Vendor price higher then expected? More required training show up in your inbox? It all adds up!
And none of it is a reflection of your value.
We may not be able to prevent what happens or how we initially feel about it, but we can understand that every encounter we have during the day influences us to some degree.
Being mindful of each event’s place in the longer story of the day goes a long way to controlling our reaction and attitude. Enjoy those “that went better than expected” moments. Acknowledge the ones that aren’t so wonderful.
And take a few minutes mid-day to reflect and do a re-set, if necessary. This will give you the chance to take on the rest of the day with a better outlook…and avoid eating a bucket of ice cream at the end of it.