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Are you feeling stuck at work?

There have been a couple times over the course of my career when I’ve found myself feeling stuck and miserable. After all these years, I don’t remember exactly what it was about that first job that wasn’t quite working for me. I remember that it sounded perfect on paper, that I was beyond excited to land the position, that the organization underwent MAJOR leadership restructuring shortly after I started, and that I was bitter and negative by the end.

A couple colleagues and I would often sneak away for “naughty lunches” (what we called ditching our brought-from-home meals in favor of going off site to a restaurant), and I complained. A lot. Which isn’t really like me. On top of feeling stuck, I felt frustrated and stifled, unsupported by leadership. I had a hard time finding things in my day to look forward to. I didn’t realize until after I was out of that situation just what a toll it was taking on my mindset. I did what people do when people they feel stuck. 

Fortunately, I was untethered at that time in my life and had another opportunity. All I needed to do was get the courage to make a leap…to a new position in a new city. And I’m grateful I did.

While I had a lot of psychology knowledge back then (I had just finished earning my PhD), I really didn’t know jack. I didn’t really understand thriving. I’d never heard of life design. I just knew my situation wasn’t working, and completely overhauling my life seemed like the only option. I certainly don’t regret it now, but I also know that leaving everything isn’t always a viable solution.  

Don’t Burn It Down

If you found yourself saying “SAME!” as I described my stuck experience, keep reading. If your job (inside or outside of the home) feels like it’s weighing you down, filling you with dread, and curtailing your growth rather than fostering it, you have options.

Think of your job as your house. If it’s not working for you anymore, or if you truly hate your house, it might be tempting to burn it down, but don’t. That’ll create a bigger mess for everyone involved. Instead, you always have the option to leave. Of course, there are a ton of legitimate reasons why that may not actually be an option for you, which is what can make you feel especially stuck. You’re not, though. You can lean on psychology and life design to help you out. Instead of burning it down or leaving it all behind, try reframing and remodeling instead.

Reframing

The stories our minds tell us are powerful. They color our view of the world, often without us even realizing it. And they become self-sustaining, self-fueling (ever heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy?). If your mind’s story about your job is that “It’s too much” or “I’m under appreciated” or “Leadership doesn’t care about me” or “My clients/customers/patients/coworkers are _______ (fill in the blank with something negative),” what must it be like to live that every day?

But what if that isn’t reality?

Or, more aptly, what if that is just one version of reality but others exist? Here’s what I mean that. What letter is this?

Did you say M or W? It depends on which way you tilt your head, which angle you look at it from. 

What if there isn’t a definitive right? I can’t tell you that it’s absolutely an M or a W. It just depends.

Our stories about work are an awful lot like that. Pay attention to what your mind has to say about your work, especially the stories that seem to pull you down. Is there a way to tilt your perspective and see it from a fresh angle? One that might not hinder you quite as much.

“It’s too much” might become “There’s a lot, but it’s worth it because…”

“I’m under appreciated” might become “My boss isn’t great about handing out praise, so I’ll focus on the end user – my students/clients/customers/etc. I know they value my work.”

“Leadership doesn’t care about me” might become “Leadership sucks, but my coworkers are so supportive.

Notice with all of these, the reframe tries to up the “worth it” factor. When you feel stuck, finding a new why, a new reason for doing what you do, for engaging in what you’re doing rather than dialing it in, can help you.

Remodeling

Remodeling is another strategy for changing your work experience. This means looking at your day-to-day, your role responsibilities, the friction points that are a struggle, and the bright spots that seem to go smoothly. You could make some cosmetic changes by trying to do more of the things you like or experimenting with ways to adjust tasks to make them more enjoyable (e.g., finding ways to increase interaction if that fills your tank or finding ways to block off uninterrupted time to dedicate to important projects while protecting your focus and mental energy).

Sometimes a fresh coat of paint isn’t enough, so you may need to remodel in a deeper way by making structural changes (think knocking down a wall). This translates to talking with your boss about how you might redesign your current role and responsibilities. There may be ways for you to delegate tasks that bog you down, utilize your strengths in a new way, take on new responsibilities, or learn new skills. How might you rewrite your job description in a way that works for both you and your company so you can avoid feeling stuck? Don’t be afraid to suggest a limited trial run. Testing out changes on a short-term basis may be more palatable to everyone.

What’s next?

Given that an average person will spend 80 – 100 THOUSAND hours working over their lifetime, it seems beyond important to me to take steps to ensure that those hours are engaging and meaningful. These strategies are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to curating your work experience. If you want to learn even more about why work can feel draining and what you can do to create a better experience WITHOUT changing anything about your actual job, join us Tuesday for our next live Quarterly Psych Strength workshop. We’ll be talking about completely different things, like role engulfment and the hedonic treadmill (aren’t you intrigued?), and designing ways to ensure your work needs are being met. It’ll be an impactful session! Don’t worry, though, if you can’t make it to the live workshop. Your ticket gets you 30 day access to the Peak Mind Platform where you’ll find the replay, the digital workbook, and some other bonus resources.

“How you spend your days is how you spend your life. You’re never stuck.”
– Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
Categories
Podcasts

Two Types of Problems that Keep You Stuck


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On today’s professional edition of the podcast, we’re using Life Design to help us move forward when we’re feeling stuck. The Life Design process has so many valuable tools and techniques to help us creatively solve some of life’s most difficult problems, and today, we’re focusing on 2 of the stickiest problems. Something called anchor problems and gravity problems.

We cover what they are, and I give a process you can use to reframe these sticky problems into something that can actually be solved.

If you’re unhappy in your job or another aspect of your life, you won’t want to miss this episode.

I also mentioned a few books and resources to dive even deeper. Here are some helpful links:

  1. Designing Your Work Life (book) https://amzn.to/3jyPsrX
  2. Designing Your Life (book) https://amzn.to/3wkJvlv
  3. Designing Your Life (workbook) https://amzn.to/3Am7S5a
Categories
Blogs

A Helpful Question When You Feel Stuck

Have you ever felt stuck? Torn as to what to do and which way to go in life? 

Maybe you feel that way about some aspect of everyday life right now. If that’s the case, this post is for you. Even if it’s not the case, read on, because that stuck/torn feeling is one we encounter over and over again in life.

I want to give you one simple tool, in the form of a question, that you can use to help you decide what to do next.

Story Time

Recently, we got some bad news about something we’ve been working really hard on inside Peak Mind. Something we’ve been working toward was threatening to fall through and not happen at all, and the news hit me HARD.

We had been working on it for WEEKS. We were thrilled at the opportunity. We were absolutely in LOVE with what we had created and wanted to send it out into the world.

And we were at risk of it all falling through.

I’ll be honest, I instantly began to over-react, and I let my mind take over. I was feeling all sorts of negative thoughts and feelings, and I began asking myself whether it all was worth it. I began doubting whether we’d ever reach the lofty goals we’ve set for ourselves. I began to convince myself that I was wasting my time.

Feeling Stuck in Life?

Now, here’s the thing. Dr.. Ashley and I frequently tell you guys that we use the exact same tools and techniques that we teach in order to build psychological strength and resilience for ourselves.

We’re not exaggerating.

It’s times like the one I just described that I’ve learned to lean back on the techniques we teach in order to help me regain balance, focus on the problem, and decide what to do. 

Here’s what I did.

Finding the Path Forward

The first small step I took was to become an observer of my mind. We give a lot of tools and techniques for doing this inside our Ascend program.

I did this by intentionally noticing the types of negative thoughts I was having and labeling them accordingly: Worry. Catastrophizing. Predicting the Future. Black-or-White Thinking.

By observing my thoughts instead of letting myself get caught up in them, I was able to put myself back in a frame of mind where I could think more clearly.

Then, I asked myself this question:

Let’s pretend you’re right. You’re 80 years old, at the end of your life, and you guys didn’t reach your lofty goals, You spent a good chunk of your life working on something that didn’t turn out the way you expected. So, long term: Will you regret it?

Will you regret spending your time teaching people about their minds, even if you don’t reach as many people as you wanted to reach?

Will you regret showing people how to use life design to make meaningful improvements in their lives, even if never becomes a mainstream practice in our society?

Will you regret focusing your time and energy on something that used your strengths and was aligned with your purpose and values?

The answer came immediately: No. Big time no.

And suddenly, I knew the path forward.

The Question

What about you? Think about the thing(s) you’re grappling with in your life. Ask yourself that question.

At the end of your life, will you regret spending your time in that way?

Sometimes, the answer will be yes. In that case, I’d encourage you to check out the Ascend program, specifically Module 3 that shows you how to use Life Design to identify and make changes in your life. But we need to stop feeling guilty about missing our goals so long as we don’t regret the paths we’ve chosen.

Sometimes the answer will be no. And you stay the course.

Meaning

A meaningful activity is so much more than one that allows you to achieve your external goals. 

Rather, a truly meaningful activity is one that aligns to your values. Uses your strengths. Puts you in a position to be your best self more often than not. When you align your values with your actions, physical and emotional stress recedes.

The work I do for Peak Mind is some of the most meaningful work I’ve ever done. It’s some of the most important time I spend in my life.

I sincerely hope that you have an activity like that in your own life, or that you find one. It is EVERYTHING.

At the end of my life, I am certain that I’ll look back on the work we did with Peak Mind and be proud that this was how I spent so much of my time. I’m so proud to be serving you to improve your mental health.

“Live your life on purpose with no apologies or regrets.”
– Angela Cecilia