What to do when work isn't going your way
We know, Work is hard.
But, sometimes — those magical times — it seems like everything is going your way. Sometimes, you catch yourself getting into the groove: you know which Jim to email about your computer issues (not CFO Jim), or how to fax something without asking, or when to sip your wine during those awkward dinner-with-coworkers moments.
One day though, you stumble.
It starts with something small. You notice spell check didn’t save your email. Or you spoke too quickly during a meeting.
But, it causes you to look over your shoulder — because you can’t possibly be crushing your Career and have a kinda-boyfriend and do your laundry two weeks in a row and find time for brunch with your mom.
Adulthood doesn’t work like that.
So, you continue to put pressure on yourself to be absolutely perfect (because what other options are there?) — until that something small becomes Huge. Your weeks become all consuming with this feeling of I-hate-work-I-can-never-go-back-how-can-I-call-out-sick. Sunday Night Scaries happen every night. You feel like you’re walking on egg shells when you arrive at the office.
Something’s gotta give.
How do you handle those moments when Work feels like it just isn’t working?
TAKE A BREATHER
You’ll. Be. Okay.
Seriously. Take a minute to breathe, and cut yourself some slack. It’s not the end of the world because you couldn’t figure out how Excel works in the 5 minutes your boss gave you.
You is Smart. You is Kind. You is Important.
And, you wouldn’t be Here if you weren’t, right? So, reflect on those times that you did do something right. A time when you were proud.
If you can’t remember any of those times, start an Outlook folder where you collect all of the nice things people say to you. I swear, it helps. Even though it seems like something small, in the moments when you’re fighting back tears at your desk take a little skim through the compliments.
I promise, you’ll feel a tiny bit better.
THINK ABOUT THE BIGGER PICTURE
I know this moment feels like you’re frozen in Hell, but will it really matter tomorrow? In a week? Next year?
Even though Right Now feels like the most defining issue of your career, take a step back. Put it in context. Remember that your boss/coworker/etc has other (bigger) things going on than your salary negotiation. They will forget.
I know it feels like they never will.
Hey — if it makes you feel better, I cried at work the other day. To my boss. About something so silly. But, I couldn’t help it, because in the moment, I felt like I messed everything up.
When I got back to my desk, I wiped my running mascara so no one would notice and went about my business. But, I couldn’t stop thinking about how shitty I felt. And that I cried. At work. About a stupid mistake.
And it made me realize: I will never be perfect. There are going to be times that I mess up — even at a job that I enjoy. Work is not like getting 100 on an exam 4 times a year. This is getting 100 on your everyday, Every Single Day.
It’s not possible.
So, forgive yourself for a minute. And, remember that in the realm of things — this time probably ain’t so bad.
ASSESS YOUR SITUATION
Okay, but what if it actually is that bad?
What if every single moment feels like someone is holding you Down, holding you Back, preventing you from being your Best Self?
I’ve been there, too.
I’ve been so frustrated and confused and awkward at navigating the Politics, at playing the Game, there were times I wanted to just walk out. I ached to never come back and say good riddance. To flip off The Man.
“So what if I had no plans,” I thought — anything was better than There.
That’s when I knew that this wasn’t just a “shake it off” type of scenario. I couldn’t just dust myself off and move on, because every day, every moment was sucking the life out of me.
I knew that I had to Assess my situation, and get the hell out.
All I’m saying is that you have to know when to draw the line. It’s different for everyone — and quite frankly, it’s a very difficult thing to do. But, don’t become numb to these moments.
Work shouldn’t (always) be shitty.
So, if it feels like Work isn’t working more often than not, make a move. Don’t get stuck — because who wants to spend 80% of their life dreading your 9am.
All in all, as I’ve progressed in my career (2 years down, woo!) I’ve slowly come to realize that sometimes — work is work. It’s not going to be rainbows and butterflies and beer in the office kitchen and spa rewards for giving a presentation.
For some reason, when I entered the Working World, I had this insane fantasy that it would be. That I would love every moment of every day.
But, even though Work can be challenging at times, it should mostly be a time where you’re growing and learning and having a bit of fun along the way.
Don’t worry though – -We’re still Young. We’re still finding It. We will soon.
Keep that in mind.
Originally published on Elite Daily.