At times, you may regret things you have done or directions you have taken and look at them as wrong. An alternative is to see your life and career as a journey of many trails and turns. The key is to keep going. If you have a failure or make a mistake, it may be leading you somewhere positive that you did not anticipate. Or, if it sends you in a direction you do not want to go, you can course-correct and learn from the experience.
Try developing a long-term, less self-critical approach to what happens on your career path. In doing so, you maintain your momentum, self-confidence and positive point of view.
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As uncomfortable as they are, a lot can be learned from missteps and failures. Making the most of them involves letting what happened teach you what to do and not do the next time that you are in a similar situation. Instead of running from such experiences, identify constructive take-aways, so that the next time you do better.
Think of a recent misstep or failure. Identify your take-aways and put them into practice. That way, you’ll create a practice of continuous improvement that can serve you well.
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It happens: you fall and find yourself down on the ground. Setbacks, failures, surprises and disruptions can all create a fall. When you experience this, how do you get back up on your feet and start moving again?
Here are some things that have helped me get back up after a fall:
• Getting fully present to what has happened and figuring out where I am with it.
• Looking forward and not focusing too much on what has happened.
• Identifying the best things I can do to get back up.
• Finding a way to not get pushed right back down again.
The next time you fall, whether caused by your actions or those of others, have a strategy for getting back up. Brush yourself off and come back to the game.
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Do you take notice of the markers in your work? Markers are events or major insights that stand out in your career. Examples of markers may be: a change in the management you report to, reaching a milestone goal in your work, an outstanding achievement, a failure that has impact, a turning point in your thinking or an important change.
Why take notice of markers? They focus you on what is happening and keep you conscious of your path forward. They also allow you to celebrate accomplishments, to be aware of the impacts of change and to learn from disappointments.
Are any markers visible to you now, or visible ahead?
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Disappointments come in all sizes. You want to rebound productively from them or they can take you for a very unproductive ride .
Disappointment has a lot to do with expectations. It is almost impossible to have no expectations. However, adjusting your expectations can do away with unnecessary disappointments.
When you experience disappointment, take some time to acknowledge the emotions you feel and give them their due. Then, it is up to you where you take it from there. You can wallow too long in your emotion, let disappointment bring you down, go into blame or victimhood – thus preventing yourself from rebounding . Or, you can rebound by assessing the cause of the disappointment, determining if there is anything you can do about it, identifying a positive next step you can take and naming any lessons learned.
Disappointments can strengthen you and help you grow. Handle them well and they can actually serve you in your career.
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Life is moving at the speed of light these days. It is easy to find yourself in overwhelm. Here are some strategies for getting out of overwhelm.
1. Walk away. It may seem impossible, but even if just for a few minutes, it will help you restore your center.
2. Laugh. Shift the energy of the moment.
3. Organize. Look at what needs to be done, prioritize and plan.
4. Adjust your expectations to the reality of the present moment.
5. Examine where the urgency is coming from.
6. Ask yourself, is this stress worth it?
7. Take note of how your body is reacting to your overwhelm.
8. Identify the core source of your overwhelm.
9. Debrief when it’s over, to avoid it in the future.
10. Make balance a priority.
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Sometimes people look at a challenging situation and say to themselves “I am trying so hard.” Or, justify disappointment by saying their team “tried”. Let’s look at this word try. Its definition is to make an attempt or effort to do something. An attempt or effort is not completion. How often do you stop your analysis of a failure (to meet a deadline, for example) at “we tried”? It doesn’t stop there. To move forward, best to look at what you did do, what went awry, what you may have done in hindsight and what you can do about it now. That keeps the situation in motion, hopefully to a satisfactory conclusion and informs you for the future.
The next time you say “I tried”, take a look at what’s behind that statement.
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Sometimes, it can be very hard to let something go. Is there something you have been holding on to? You can hold on to many things after their time is up – things such as failures, relationships, grudges, anger and other emotions, destructive memories or regrets. As you hold on, you pay a price. The price can lie in distraction, emotional distress, over-thinking, inability to be fully present in the moment or stagnation. It can be a jail of your own making.
When you release something that is over or no longer serves you, you are free. There is room for something new. You can focus your attention on other things. It may take time to let something go, but it can also happen quickly, once you set your mind to it. The first step is recognition that it is time to release something. Then, you bring yourself to the present moment and a place of clarity about the situation and act – by declaring your intention to let go, doing something concrete to cut a tie or changing behaviors that support the current situation.
What, in your life, or work, is ready for release?
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Expectations, by their nature, focus on the future – they are what you anticipate will happen. They can, however, negatively impact your experience of the present moment. Expectations are not real and should not be treated as if they are. They are a part of your humanness and do not need to be eliminated; just understood. If you are not aware of the power of your expectations to influence the present moment, they can become a quicksand for you. How? The quicksand shows up when you confuse your expectations with the reality of a situation. All of a sudden, a situation does not meet your expectations and you see failure, instead of say, a need for a course-correction.
You hear a lot about managing expectations. The context for this usually is that you not expect too much. But, truly managing your expectations involves keeping them in their proper place. You can let your team know you have expectations of how they will perform and produce. You can measure against your expectations. The important factor is to know that your expectations are often subjective and are not true predictors of an outcome.
Good managing involves realism and acting effectively in the present moment. As your expectations are met or not met, manage to the present moment. To stay out of the quicksand, keep your expectations in their rightful place.