Are you struggling at work?

Maybe you’re overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time. Or maybe you’re upset that others have been promoted ahead of you when you’re at least as qualified. Perhaps it’s the daily struggle of dealing with a micromanaging boss or inconsiderate colleagues.

If so, you are not alone.

Whatever the source of your struggle, it’s exhausting and draining when it feels like things aren’t going your way.

It’s okay to wallow in the negatives for a while, even if you know that won’t help you move forward. But then it’s time to take action.

To help you set yourself up for success, here are three steps you can take when you’re struggling at work and want to get back on track:

  1. Remind yourself of what you’re like at your best
  2. Identify the conditions needed for you to thrive
  3. Focus on what you can control or influence

Remind yourself of what you’re like at your best

The first step to getting beyond what one client called the “struggle bus” is to reconnect with your best self. This gives you a benchmark so you can measure the gap between where you are now and where you’d like to be.

Think about a time when you were proud of yourself for the way you showed up and conducted yourself. Or it could be a time when you felt really happy with yourself and your contributions.

At my best, I’m patient with my team and bring out the best in people around me. It’s easy to be creative, collaborative and make things fun. I can think on my feet, make good decisions, and advocate for what I want. I’m able to feel confident and have a can-do attitude. People see me as a leader.

How about you – what are you like at your best?

This brings us to the second step.

Identify the conditions needed for you to thrive

Just as different flowers grow best in different soil and weather conditions, each of us needs different conditions to be at our best.

When it comes to your work environment, maybe you prefer to have structure in your work with lots of feedback and nurturing – like the orchid that blooms best when closely tended in a greenhouse.

Or perhaps you thrive on challenges and enjoy the thrill of winning when the odds are against you – like a cactus that can flourish in the desert.

There’s also the way you take care of your physical and emotional needs. For example, getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercise so your body and mind can function at their best. Or having nurturing relationships and a deeper sense of purpose.

What conditions need to be present for you to be at your best?

Which takes us to the third step.

Focus on what you can control or influence

When you look at your current situation and compare it to your ideal, consider where there’s a gap and how you can put the positive conditions in place.

While some things won’t be easy or even possible to change, there’s usually something you can do. So begin to close the gap by focusing on what you can control or at least influence.

If you’re at your best when your work environment is neat and tidy, it’s worth taking a few minutes to clear up your desk before tackling the day’s tasks. If you’re so hungry you can’t think straight, go get some nourishing food (and plan your mealtimes going forward so you don’t get to the point of feeling starved).

For the things truly beyond your control, see how you can reframe them so they’re more energizing or less draining. For example, you can think of the boss who rules by fear as your trainer for how to deal with difficult people and even appreciate how he or she is helping you build your muscles.

Set yourself up for success

We all struggle in our careers at times, so you’re not alone if things aren’t smooth sailing right now.

When that happens, remember to take these steps to get off the “struggle bus” and set yourself up for success:

  • Remind yourself of what you’re like at your best – it’s a benchmark to measure against and inspiration for who you can be again
  • Identify the conditions needed for you to thrive – to help you identify the gap between your current situation and your ideal
  • Focus on what you can control or influence – including reframing the things you can’t easily change

And if you’re leading a team, see how you can contribute to setting team members up for success as well.

Which of these steps will most help you get off the “struggle bus” and set you up for success going forward?

Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.

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