Moving our goals forward is a piece of cake on those days when everything goes well, we have lots of energy, and motivation is high. We don't need a book, or coach, or a class to figure out what to do on good days.
It's the bad days that challenge us. You know what I mean:
- The days we wake up cranky because we slept poorly.
- The days that seem to be ill-fated - things seem more difficult.
- The days our energy and motivation is low.
- The days we have overplanned or overbooked.
How do we stay focused on these days? How do we generate breakthroughs when we are having a tough time keeping our brains engaged in anything at all? How do we make positive things happen when our brains are seeping with negativity?
Here are a few techniques I have found to work.
Lean toward physical activities, not mental. When our minds are in a fog, it is tough to break free. But if we do something physical, it often helps - go for a walk, run those errands you have been putting off, do some stretching, take the three block walk to the local Starbucks. By the way, I don't consider typing a physical act.
Do something small - tiny in fact. Send one email, do one post, straighten up your desk, stop by a peer's office. Do one tiny thing.
Get real. Our bad day is probably not really that bad at all. I have a couple "get real" scenarios I return to again and again to snap my brain out of feeling sorry for itself. These are stories of amazing people who endured 1000 times more adversity than I face on my worst days. Ordinary people doing the extraordinary. We are all ordinary people capable of the extraordinary.
Be just a wee bit indulgent. Bad days are often a signal that we have been working too hard or that we are taking things way too seriously. Take some time today to do something you really enjoy.
Chill out. Stuck in traffic? Don't let it get you down. Late for a meeting? No worries, reschedule it. Looming deadlines? Take one thing at a time.
Bottom line it. Ask yourself what's the one thing you could do today that would make the greatest difference. Do that one thing now and tell yourself that it is OK to sluff off after that. Guess what, you will likely not sluff off because doing that one thing will help turn your day around.
Spend time with energy givers, not sappers. Some people are a pleasure to be around and make us feel better. Others seem to sap every last morsel of energy from the room when they enter. Spend your time with the former and avoid the later.
Do something nice for someone. On bad days, we often feel like we have been wronged by the universe or that we are somehow being dumped on. Of course, we know this is not really true. A "woe is me" mindset will drag our day down faster than a Porsche eats curves. When we contribute to others, our whole perspective changes and our greatness begins to shine again.
For me, the toughest condition to overcome is fatigue. Tired is tired. There are many ways to keep things moving forward and when I am tired and I focus on those actions I can take that do not require me to be my most brilliant. And besides, many solutions and great ideas are lurking in simple places.
Here's to turning bad days into better ones....