Stress shows up in different ways for different people, but a common early-warning indicator is the frequent ill-timed “space out” session – you know, the moments when you’re there, but not really all there.
It happens to everyone: the daydream filled business meeting that offers co-workers a non-responsive blank-stare in exchange for their inquiry or the working lunch that has you absentmindedly scarfing down a bag of chips. Oh the sadness and dismay when you reach expectedly into an empty bag. They’re both indications that you’re on autopilot, but the biggest one perhaps is when you unwittingly talk to yourself.
Don’t get me wrong. A word or two with your creative inside voice is fine, but when you have full, commute-length conversations, or worse yet, arguments with someone who is most certainly NOT in the car, you may need to rebalance your priorities. Regardless of what’s sparking the self-talk, turning that imaginary podcast into a blog can help you get back in balance.
- When Things Are Good: Sometimes you space out because you’re simply busy making things happen. Awesome overload doesn’t sound like much of an issue, but high-performers can fail to capitalize on achievements if they forget the wins accumulated along the way.
Everyone has competition. Whether you’re seeking a job, running a business, or vying for a promotion or bigger bonus there are others looking to capture the same thing. Life isn’t a zero sum game, but resources and opportunities aren’t infinite either – especially if operating in a corporate structure. If you want to stand out from the competition, you must be able to recall and articulate what makes you valuable.
A success journal gets you in the habit of crafting key accomplishments – complete with ROI metrics that can be used during your performance review or, if switching companies, on your resume, and during the interview process. When things are going well for you, document the wins. These proof points can act as a success savings account.
- When Things Are Bad: We all have gripes. No employer, manager, or team is perfect and even little things can grate on our nerves to the point where they become actual stressors. Rather than go negative and exacerbate the situation through negative self talk and gossip, try to see your beef as an unattended to opportunity.
Managers aren’t mind readers. Many employees sit in silence and let the issue fester. Others will raise the concern, but only the concern, which is the equivalent of dumping the problem on someone else. Instead, take time to put the issue to paper and then offer a solution. For example, if you’re unhappy about an aspect of your job such as workload, task diversity, or inefficiency, address the issue directly. The offer options and a recommendation for remedying the problem and demonstrate your willingness to take on. Even if your plan isn’t fully adopted, the three-part strategy will allow you to sidestep complainer status and align with the “key talent” ranks.
Writing down both your wins and challenges will not only help you capitalize on the first and best the second, it will also allow you to earn back the mindshare spent on stress-induced space outs. This in turn will amp up your productivity and allow more white space for truly creative pursuits.
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Be sure to check out my latest book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi