How To Make This Your Last Ever Bad Day At Work

Do you confuse what you do for a living with who you are as a person, so that when something bad happens at work it affects the whole of your life? This is a theme that has come up in my work this week, and one I thought I’d share with you.

My people are hardcore professionals. You not only care about having a great career, but want to feel good about your life too. But because what you do for a living is such a fundamental pillar of how you understand yourself, you sometimes get work and you mixed up.

You know how it is. You have a poor trading day; you get critical feedback from your managing partner; you lose a client you’d expected to secure; your business’s blog traffic tanks. But you don’t see these things in isolation.They take on a blackness for you that pervades your whole life.

You take your misery home with you and brood on it. You tell yourself you were never cut out to be a trader, lawyer, sales director or online marketer. Feeling shit pervades your whole being. You sulk in front of the television, cancel some social thing, skip gym and eat more ice cream than you’d planned.

If imperfect things happen, you must be fundamentally imperfect.

It’s a mindset that can make you feel miserable, and in some instances lead to a scenario where work takes more of a priority in life than it should, as you strive for the kind of imagined excellence that will allow you to feel good about yourself. But that’s an illusion, my friend, as you keep upping the ante on yourself to achieve more and better.

The solution? Uncouple these two things. Know that you and your performance are different and need different things. You need your support and understanding. Your performance needs skills, feedback, learning, practice and improvement. You endure for the long term. Performance is more focused, can and will change over time.

Next time you begin to feel that a bad day at work threatens to overwhelm you, catch the thought in its tracks. Realize that you can separate it from who you are. Instead of allowing whatever it is to sink you, recognize you have a choice. Hold it away from you. See it as a piece of information, feedback, something you can do something about. Put yourself to the task of figuring out what that is. And then, get out there and enjoy your evening anyway!

Does this ring bells for you at all? How do you mix up who you are with what you do and with what results? How can you support yourself to separate these things out?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Symic

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Comments

  1. Scot Herrick says:

    This, of course, is hard to do. Really great employees and people who believe in their work get emotionally invested in the work and the outcomes. If you don’t feel these things, the mirror is there for you to check on what your engagement with work is and should be.

    Having said that, Christine’s advice is spot on: you have to disengage what is happening from your value as a person.

    It’s a job skill to learn. But it isn’t easy to learn.
    .-= Scot Herrick´s last blog ..Teams have high tension for a reason =-.

    • Ah, Scot, no one promised that self-mastery was ever easy ;) The challenge for us professionals is that we care. We want our work to mean something, for it to make an impact, for it to have been worthwhile. That’s a hallmark trait of the folks I work with. And yet, attaching too much to what happens to us can screw us up emotionally and indeed detriment our performance.

      Being healthily engaged is a skill indeed.

  2. Julie Walraven | Resume Services says:

    Thanks, Christine. I am learning this lesson. One of the smartest things that our friend, Jim Connolly told me is that you cannot call a month a loss in the middle of the month, the end of the month could surprise you… unless you are projecting negativity in all your online and personal connections and networking… then you may get what you fear.

    I am sometimes so obsessively watching stats and numbers that I don’t separate things. Keeping a handle on things is one thing but letting it hold you hostage is another.

    Keep on inspiring, my friend! Just keep on inspiring!
    .-= Julie Walraven | Resume Services´s last blog ..Winner or Loser The newest LinkedIn product – Resume Builder =-.

    • Our friend, Jim Connolly, is wise indeed. Feeding undue negativity into a system can set up what we fear, absolutely.

      And, since you’re the smart chick that taught me how to track the blog statistics, I can relate to your looking obsessively at the numbers and not separating things. Easy to get lost in the detail and lose sight of the more important big trends. But, keep the faith on yourself, my friend, you are such a wonderful person and have much to give.

    • Spot on Julie :-)
      .-= Kate Bacon´s last blog ..Celebrating a life well lived… =-.

  3. When such things happen, we often become too identified with our performance.. We take it personal.. This post really helps. Who you are personally is definitely from how you perform at work.

    “Uncouple these two things. Know that you and your performance are different and need different things. You need your support and understanding. Your performance needs skills, feedback, learning, practice and improvement. You endure for the long term. Performance is more focused, can and will change over time”

    That was a great solution

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