How to perform when life sucks


How to perform when life sucksAre you spending your days at work wondering about your electric bill, or are you worried about your debt? Maybe you are getting divorced? Let’s face it – what happens at home, has an impact on how you perform at work. Today I will be sharing parts of my personal life and write about happiness and what you need to do a great job even if there is a storm at home.

The wheel of life

In coaching we address the whole human aspects, even when I coach at and for work, I address all aspects of your life. The reason is simple – each individual area is affecting the rest. But this article is about how to perform when your life sucks, so I will not go into depths about improving all areas now. But the reason it is called the wheel of life is that the parable is the wheel of a car, it needs to be inflated and round to give you a nice drive. The same goes for the wheel of life. Addressing your weaker spots is important in the long run.

Out of focus

Imagine sitting at work, and you woke up to a dark and cold house because you have gotten your electricity cut off. How will your day at work be? Imagine that your spouse had “the talk” with you last night? A snapshot of your day at work would be a blurry picture out of focus. How do you go about to make it through the day?

To all leaders out there: The most difficult part of getting through the day is a leader with no understanding of life challenges. Get a grip, turn on some compassion and make sure your employees have a good time at work – no sod off this article is for your staff to read.

Re-focus your day

1. Staying home might not be a good idea
You might ask for a day or two off work to get things sorted out. If there is practical stuff you need to do, make a list, find out how much time it will take and ask for the exact hours you need to sort it out. Do not stay at home just to let your mind swim in negative thoughts. You are much better off at work giving yourself time off worrying.

2. 15 minutes thinking break.
Maybe you need to start the day with a pen and paper – write down your worries and think the thoughts you need, try to put it away for a while. Make a todo-list if you can. It is better to spend 15 isolated minutes to think and worry – so you can be more focused on work.

3. Share your secrets.
If you have someone you trust, ask to speak with them. You can also speak with your boss, you don’t need to share it all, but say that you are not feeling 100 % but you would rather be at work.

4. What does it take to solve the situation?
Everything has a solution. It might not be easy to see. If you do, great, if you don’t who can help you? Try to find someone that can support you and help you get out of your troubles.

5. Create small goals you can accomplish.
Make a list of a few things you can get done and out of the way. Creating mastery at work can help your self-esteem.

6. Do something good for others.
Helping your co-workers, or just getting them coffee – or praise someone during your day will give you a feeling of doing something good, it is free, it is easy and people always appreciate a kind word or act. This will also give you a feeling of contribution.

7. 45 minutes bursts.
Turn of your phones, shut down your email and make a list of what you want to get done the next 45 minutes. Set an alarm to go off if you have one. And take a well-deserved break afterwards.

8. Put your best face on.
This one goes out to the people who work with customers/people either on phone or face to face. Be aware and know that your worries will affect your service. No reason to take your frustration out on innocent people. So be aware of this, and give yourself a competition – give them the best service ever.

9. 20 % is better than 0 %
It is ok to perform at 20 % sometimes, unless you are an airline pilot or surgeon. Depending on your job off course, but if you got time to read this while at work, you most likely have a job where 20 % is better than 0 %. This meaning that you coming into work will help your co-workers and yourself too.

10. It is ok!
You are not alone, about 50 % get divorced. 25 % have periods of mental disorders. A lot of people get into too much debt sometimes in their life. This goes to your management team again – if you are a manager and still reading. Companies should have a plan to aid people in a rough spot – because feeling bad about the job too, should not be necessary.

I have been a leader and had to motivate people to perform when I was losing my grip. I have been in debts that took seven years of misery to get out of. I have been divorced and had my share of “downs”. When I talk to employees or clients about their trouble I share my stories – this is a powerful tool as they suddenly feel that I understand them, and I do. Without my hard times in my life, I might not have been able to be as compassionate as I now can be. The learning here is that even hardship creates some kind of value in life. And I can see back what I did wrong. I have quit jobs that I enjoyed because I did not address my issues – I do not want you to do the same, when it might not be the job that is the problem. And remember there are no such things as superhumans, most people struggle at times, and that is ok. But yes, I do realize that I have to write a blog post for the leaders as well, because they need to create the room for acceptance – and in many companies this might be the biggest challenge.

The basic level of happiness

I could write a book about this topic, but I want to include it as this has made me a stronger person. I have found my basic level of happiness based on me having nothing in life, being unemployed, poor and without my loved ones in my life. I have spent tremendous of time thinking about what my basic level of happiness is and what it takes to keep it at an acceptable level undisturbed by happenings in my life – good or bad. This gave me strength to go through a divorce as friends, to have hard talks with managers and employees in my life, to live an honest life close to my values. My happiness is good, even if I am left alone in the dark. I will try to keep this short, as something for you to think of. A job might increase my basic level of happiness, but losing it shall not decrease my basic level. A future spouse or girlfriend shall increase my basic level of happiness, but not decrease it. Material goods might increase it, but lost in a fire, they shall not reduce it. I accept that left naked, without a job, in the rain, I will still have a basic level of happiness that is ok. And things that happen in life shall increase it, but losing it will never crush the foundation in my happiness. By accepting that all states of life create some kind of learning – I feel that no matter what happens, I will get something good in return. This might sound challenging – just want to give you something to think about. And maybe this will be my next book.

Frode Heimen
Author of: Becoming Great at Work
Twitter: @frodeheimen
Facebook: Like Never Mind the Manager

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1 Comment on "How to perform when life sucks"

  1. Thanks for sharing your personal story and these concrete ways to carry on at work when things are rocky at home. We have all had times where we are managing personal struggles while trying to maintain a professional life, and this post really resonates. 

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