Do you want to learn how to continue to enjoy your life even when things go completely sideways at work? The following three simple exercises help me do just that.
We all navigate life challenges in our lives pretty much daily. Some of these challenges are small, some are big, some are easy for us to overcome, and some are more difficult. And today I want to tell you about three things that help me personally navigate life challenges and in the process continue actually enjoying my life.
I am dealing with a big issue at work right now. It blew up at the end of February and pretty much ruined my vacation (I have the whole podcast episode dedicated to it).
It’s already May, and you would think that it should’ve been resolved by now. Well, unfortunately it’s not.
There was a big screw-up on our side. One of the big projects went completely sideways, and it is going to take a few more months to bring it back on track. A lot of people have been involved, and I had to step in, take full responsibility, roll up my sleeves and get very deeply involved.
My main frustration here is I feel that we are moving too slow. I wish I could just flip it around magically, but unfortunately that’s not the case. I often ask myself if there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I definitely see it, but the truth is I don’t know how long it’s going to take to fully resolve this issue. But it will definitely take several more months.
Early in my career this situation would really stress me out.
Five or ten years ago I would NOT be able to live my life normally if something like that happened. I used to take things very personally, and so I would blame myself and would keep thinking, “What have I done wrong?? What could I have done better to prevent the situation??”
I would NOT be able to enjoy my life outside of work.
Work would be the ONLY thing that I could think about. And nothing would bring me joy.
But over the years, I have learned several techniques that help me deal with stress at work and at the same time help me continue to enjoy my life outside of work.
I believe it is very important to learn this skill. And here’s why:
We are living our lives TODAY.
And I don’t want to spend six months fixing this issue and then look back and realize that I have completely wasted six months of my life.
I want to be enjoying my life every day. I want to be living my life to the fullest every day.
So here is exactly what I do.
#1: Practice gratitude and appreciation
Yesterday was another stressful day. I was in a pretty bad mood at the end of the day and I felt tired. We had dinner and then my daughter asked if we wanted to play Game of Life on PS5 with her. We play it once in a while, maybe every two weeks.
At first, I said, “No, Dasha, I’m so tired, let’s play tomorrow.”
She got upset, and I decided to give it a try. We were all already sitting in the living room, so why not play?
And you know what – we had SO much fun! We played for about half an hour, and we laughed, and we joked, and I don’t even think I won, I think Dasha won. But it doesn’t even matter. We had such a great time together that when it was over I felt SO MUCH better. My mood had drastically improved, I felt more energized, I didn’t feel stressed anymore.
All because I leaned into the area of my life that is NOT stressful.
Yes, work is stressful right now, but it is very important to remember that work is just one part of my life. It is NOT my whole life. It often happens that when things go wrong in just one area of our life we feel like our whole life is beginning to fall apart. Whether it’s work, personal relationships, or something else – when things go wrong in this area of our lives, we feel like our life is over.
But that is NOT true.
We still have SO MUCH good happening in our lives. We just need to remember it.
That’s why it is very important to have a clear holistic picture of your whole life. You still have your friends, you have your hobbies, you have your family. So even when things go wrong at work, you have so many other things to be grateful for, to appreciate, to love, to lean into and to gain more energy from.
This is exactly what I did last night, and it really helped.
#2: Embrace your personal strengths
After we finished playing that game, Kevin and I went outside to our backyard to have a glass of wine and to chat about our day.
As I was telling him how things were not going as planned I made a few jokes, and he said, “It’s so great how you can laugh about it! You are not feeling down. You’re still having fun!”
I laughed, “Yeah, I guess that’s all I can do at this point – laugh and joke about it.“
And he said, “Yeah, that’s great, you are such an optimist!“
And it made me realize that it is indeed one of my strengths – being an optimist.
It has helped me many times in life that no matter how stressful the situation is I always see the light at the end of the tunnel. I always have hope that things will turn out well. I have confidence that I will figure it out. Looking at life through this lense is definitely one of my biggest strengths.
It is very important that we recognize our strengths.
Whether it’s your honesty, your persistence, your sense of humor, or anything else – you have your own strengths that help you in life. You might not even don’t know they exist, but they do! And you use them daily.
Try to recall a challenging situation that you experienced at some point in life and that you managed to resolve successfully. Which strengths did you use to deal with it?
Knowing these strengths and embracing them does NOT just help you deal with challenging situations – it actually makes you feel GOOD about yourself. When in a stressful situation, it helps you recognize how strong and how capable you are. It helps you build confidence.
When you start to notice your strengths more, when you begin to apply them in your life more, then you begin to enjoy your life SO much more.
#3: Reconnect with your core values
The third thing that helps me deal with challenging situations is knowing why I do what I do, why I am dealing with this issue, and why it is important to be dealt with.
I am a very responsible person. When I commit to something, it is very important for me to get it done right. And I know that, in this work situation, I need to make it right for the client because they deserve to have it done right.
Taking responsibility is one of more core values. And aligning with it helps me stay strong and continue to push forward.
But not just that. It makes it all more meaningful, more impactful. It makes me feel more fulfilled about everything I do.
So, even though I am dealing with a stressful situation, I actually feel GOOD about myself because of this deep alignment with my “why”. There is a meaning in it.
So, next time you feel stressed, next time you feel that your life is going completely sideways, remember these three simple exercises.
I hope they put you back on track and help you resolve the situation successfully, and feel better in the process.
Because challenges WILL happen. We can’t avoid them.
But it’s up to us to decide how we respond to these challenges and how we feel in the process of dealing with these challenges. And it is important that you feel GOOD.
Feel fulfilled. Feel satisfied. Feel accomplished. This is what matters.
And continue enjoying your life.
As a bonus, you get stronger. The more challenges you deal with the more confidence you gain.
So go and embrace your life challenges. Don’t be afraid of them, use them to make your life fuller and more exciting!