If you don’t like your choices, create better ones.
You feel exhausted, ineffective, unaccomplished, and cynical. Maybe you feel like no matter how hard you work, you can never keep up. Or that you can’t make your boss happy no matter how hard you try. And you’re beginning to question your professional situation: Am I in the right job? The right company? The right career? I used to feel passionate about going into work but now I dread Monday and can’t wait until Friday. Will I ever feel excited about my life and work again?
These are classic signs that you’re feeling burned out. And in that state, you often feel like your circumstances are out of your control — as if everything around you is working against you. You might think: Everyone else is to blame for my burnout. But this victim mindset only blocks you from doing anything about your situation. While you’re complaining about other
It’s hard not to get worked up emotionally when you’re in a tense conversation. After all, a disagreement can feel like a threat. You’re afraid you’re going to have to give up something — your point of view, the way you’re used to doing something, the notion that you’re right, or maybe even power – and your body therefore ramps up for a fight by triggering the sympathetic nervous system. This is a natural response, but the problem is that our bodies and minds aren’t particularly good at discerning between the threats presented by not getting your way on the project plan and, say, being chased down by a bear. Your heart rate and breathing rate spike, your muscles tighten, the blood in your body moves away from your organs, and you’re likely to feel uncomfortable.
None of this puts you in the right frame of mind
It seems everywhere you look these days someone is touting the benefits of mindfulness — a practice that Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, describes simply as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” Research shows that people who practice mindfulness are less stressed, more focused and better able to regulate their emotions.
But, if you’re a busy working parent, how do you build mindfulness into an already-packed day? Those of us with kids and jobs often feel tired and rushed. We’re constantly multi-tasking, juggling personal and professional responsibilities, and feeling stressed about all we can’t get done. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, 56 percent of working parents say they find it difficult to balance their time between work and family. Though I now counsel others on how to break this cycle, I can certainly relate to it.
At some point, we all confront a stressful life event or personal crisis that threatens to distract us from work. Perhaps it’s tending to a sick family member, coping with your own illness, or dealing with a divorce. These are all incredibly tough situations to navigate personally — let alone professionally. Should you disclose what’s happening to your manager and colleagues? How do you ask for what you need, such as flexible hours or a reduced workload? And how do you know if you should take a leave of absence?
What the Experts Say
“This is life, and these things happen to everybody,” says Anne Kreamer, author of It’s Always Personal. But knowing you’re in good company is not necessarily a comfort, especially if you’re struggling to stay on top of your responsibilities at home and work. If you’ve reached the point where you say to yourself, “I
At age 41, I am where I want to be in my career: running my own sales-training business, with enough clients lined up that I can probably live comfortably for the next several years. But I’m in trouble. Every Gen Xer is.
Younger generations are quickly taking over the workforce. They’re also becoming the decision makers and the most hotly pursued consumers. And they grew up with their own set of expectations, their own view of the world.
If I don’t find ways to stay relevant to today’s 20-somethings, I will become a dinosaur in five years, probably less. For all the talk about how younger people desire and need learning experiences, the opposite is also true: The rest of us need to learn from them — and from how they learn.
You and Your Team Series
You’d think that the biggest cultural challenge when going abroad for an assignment would be acclimating to the foreign culture you’re moving to. After all, it’s well known that expat life compels people to stretch beyond their cultural comfort zones; whether moving from Barcelona to Beijing, or from San Francisco to Stuttgart, you will encounter cultural challenges. These are challenges that you can generally anticipate and prepare for, and they are also ones that tend to come with some degree of support and resources, whether through your company or a local expat community. What you likely haven’t prepared for — and what can sometimes be even more challenging — is the cultural adjustment of moving home.
Instead of slipping seamlessly back into the life you left behind, you may discover that you are now a proverbial square peg in a round hole. This can give rise to
Leaders face complex and uncertain situations every day: What will sales be like next year? Will our new product succeed? What will the competition do? But the most challenging circumstances are often completely unexpected, because we never even knew to look for them. (In the parlance of Donald Rumsfeld, the former U.S. secretary of defense, they’re the unknown unknowns).
After I finished my master’s degree, for instance, I was planning on a career in academia. I applied to several doctoral programs, and wondered which I’d get into. The answer: none.
I simply hadn’t realized that the exact quality that made me an ideal candidate earlier in my academic career — a “Renaissance person” who was interested in many disciplines — made me anathema to doctoral admissions committees, which were seeking hyper-specialized applicants. I didn’t know how the game was played, so I was rejected everywhere.
“How do I find my purpose?”
Ever since Daniel Gulati, Oliver Segovia, and I published Passion & Purpose six years ago, I’ve received hundreds of questions — from younger and older people alike — about purpose. We’re all looking for purpose. Most of us feel that we’ve never found it, we’ve lost it, or in some way we’re falling short.
But in the midst of all this angst, I think we’re also suffering from what I see as fundamental misconceptions about purpose — neatly encapsulated by the question I receive most frequently: “How do I find my purpose?” Challenging these misconceptions could help us all develop a more rounded vision of purpose.
Misconception #1: Purpose is only a thing you find.
On social media, I often see an inspiring quotation attributed to Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born
We all want to be happy on the job, but what does that actually mean? Is it just being satisfied in your job? Does it mean having fun at work? Are we happy when working conditions are good, our days are enjoyable, and our nights are worry-free?
All of these things matter, of course, but there’s more to it. In studying positive psychology as well as consulting to thousands of people around the world, I have discovered that in order to be happy at work we need three things: (1) to feel that we are making a difference; (2) to see the link between our work and our vision for the future; and (3) great relationships.
We are happy at work when we find meaning in what we do, when our jobs line up with our values, and when we can see the fruits of our labor. Work becomes
2) You’re simultaneously going to spend all of that time in a frantic, improvisational rush trying to cover responsibilities at work while taking care of business at home — which won’t, to put it mildly, be easy. Working parenthood in and of itself presents a massive logistical and emotional challenge, and when your child is unwell, that challenge ramps up significantly: How do you explain