Ok, so you blew it. Today wasn’t the day that you had in mind and you fell short in some way. Whether it was an important deadline that you missed, criticism from your boss or that one child that seemed to never stop crying all day long, we all have bad days at work and at home. The question is – what are you going to do about it now?
I remember days that I’ve had where it seemed as though nothing went right. It was one thing after another and when I got home at the end of that day, I was exhausted, frustrated, and ready to call it quits! I mean, how is it possible to have so many things go wrong when all I’m trying to do is my best? Well, we all have days (and sometimes weeks) like that from time to time…
I believe that the following is a simple 3 step plan to overcome or move past a bad day at work.
STEP 1 – Take time to reflect. Reflect on what went wrong…and what went right. Sometimes we get so caught up in the disruptions and the criticism and the things that just didn’t go our way that we lose sight of the fact that there are actually things that went well for the day. Write them down and take time to feel the good things that happened to you, for you, and around you that day.
Also, take time to reflect on what role you played in your day. Did you have a bad day because you didn’t plan well enough, or you weren’t organized well, or because you just didn’t choose the right attitude? Whatever the ’cause’ of your bad day, I think that we all have a hand in those bad days in one way or another and if we can take a moment and reflect on what we did…or didn’t do…on those days, it will help us overcome them more easily in the future.
I remember being called out in a meeting one time because I didn’t have an assignment done that was due that day. I was so frustrated – and mad, really – and it simply ruined my day. I was grumpy, I was mean to those around me, and I just couldn’t wait until 5 o’clock when I could just go home and put the day behind me. I walked around blaming my boss for calling me out – in front of everyone. What kind of leadership was that?!?!? Like he had never messed up or missed a deadline! Then it occurred to me, if I had just gotten the assignment done and done on time, none of this ‘would have happened to me.’ Some self-reflection can go a long way towards overcoming the bad days of life.
STEP 2 – Correct what needs to be corrected. Make it right. If your kids are extra clingy or extra fussy today and it is causing you to have a bad day – get down on the floor and play with them, even when it doesn’t seem like you have the time. If you missed a deadline at work, put everything else aside and get that assignment done and turned in to your boss. If after your self-reflection time you realize that the problem is one that consistently comes up – like being a poor manager of your time – figure out what needs to happen differently and fix it.
At my current job, I have a number of employees who I need to delegate tasks to and then follow up to make sure they got done. In the early days of this new venture, things would often get missed because I would ask them to complete a task and then it would get lost in their day and I would forget to follow up. I would often find myself having bad days because the work wasn’t being done and it would affect a number of people and the organization as a whole. The way I solved it was to begin using a product called Wunderlist. It helps us manage our tasks and, more importantly, reminds me to follow up to ensure their completion.
STEP 3 – Remember, tomorrow’s a new day! Without sounding overly optimistic, tomorrow is a new day. Often, after we’ve had the chance to ‘sleep on it,’ things aren’t as serious as they seemed yesterday. Tomorrow provides you with the opportunity to do it better. I have seen folks that have a bad day and it ends up turning in to a bad week, then a bad month, and then this chip they have on their shoulder or bitterness that they have towards their boss or towards their company that makes them unproductive and uncommitted to the job they’ve been hired to do.
Don’t let that happen to you. Choose to say that I’m going to be more on top of things today than I was yesterday. Choose to find solutions rather than assign blame. Choose to act rather than avoid. Choose to make tomorrow the day that today should have been!
So, the next time you find yourself having a bad day, take some time to reflect, commit to correct what needs to be corrected, and remember that tomorrow is a brand new day.
When have you had a bad day in the past and what did you do to overcome it?