Without preamble, these are for you if 1.) You are not happy with the way things are going at work, or 2.) You are happy but concerned that you are not keeping up with your career plans, or 3.) You have not been thinking about yourself and your career, or 4.) You just feel like doing something to generate a different tempo in your work/life balance, or 5.) You just try stuff you read about online.
- Start a new kind of journal. This is a paper and pencil (or pen or tape and crayon; just not pixels and code) exercise. Begin by buying a portable book of paper and a pen or pencil just for this journal. When you see or find something written or drawn that generates new ideas, affirming research, or just pictures or words that move you, write, copy, cut, paste, or draw in your book. That’s all. Just think of this as focused, real-world Pinterest, maybe? In only a little while, you can start to see your new pattern, and watch it pick up steam and energy. I think of this as my portable vision board.
- Research. If you want fresh ideas, a new perspective, new friends or an interest group, or a better sense of what could be nagging at you in the back of your brain, research is one of the keys. Research tends to be outward–it’s not always okay to hang around in your head and expect new thinking to just show up. Research includes asking people the questions that lead to answers or new questions, using search engines to gather formal knowledge, and going to places where information is dispensed. Developing spreadsheets and data follows immediately–it isn’t real if it isn’t written and organized.
- Sleep. You need to process, and that happens when you aren’t fully awake and alert. If you have to nap, you have to nap; if you need to sleep through the night, you have to arrange to do that somehow if it doesn’t come easily to you. Pay attention to this; you need to sleep in order to think and make good decisions.
- Affirm. Practice affirmations to manage your day to day mood, reactions, energy, outward appearance, and interactions with others. If you are experiencing distress or confusion, frustration or anger, it’s really important to get that under control. The best way to get control of yourself is to affirm that you are who you want to be. Negative self-talk (“I’m a mess; I’m out of control; I’m too angry to deal with this; I’m never going to get what I want”) is affirmation, and it’s powerful. The only way to stop it is to replace it with positive self-talk (“I can handle this setback; I’m getting a lot done; I’m going to be fine; I am calm and thoughtful under pressure; I’m really in a great position to get what I want”). Write your affirmations in your new Journal and review them every morning and evening.
- Create a timeline and list of goals. All goals should be time-sensitive, if not time-bound. Write your goals and deadlines in your journal and revise them as needed; you can do that; they are yours.
I promise–this little list is better than stewing helplessly about and letting your fears and frustrations boil over and change you in a negative way. Don’t force your own hand by reciting the crazy over and over. Build your strength buy staying in control and performing some basic rituals–you will find comfort in the process of quantifying and articulating what you really want.