The average workday for many professionals is full of challenges and demands, whether that means meeting tight deadlines, sitting in back-to-back meetings or fielding client requests. As a result, you probably come home exhausted and drained at the end of the day.
If this sounds familiar, rest assured you’re not alone. Daily responsibilities and duties can certainly be stressful, but what happens when your stress is compounded by unnecessary thoughts or emotions in the workplace?
After more than 20 years in human resources, I’ve certainly witnessed my share of professionals spending too much time on drama at work — creating fictional stories in their heads and wasting time and energy arguing with the reality or facts of their situations. We are all guilty of it on some level, and I’m certainly no exception. The unfortunate truth is that you are engaging in a self-inflicted argument that you are 100 percent certain to lose. You will never be able to fully control every situation and there will always be extenuating circumstances. That’s why you must embrace what is and find ways to succeed anyway, regardless of any obstacles along the way.
The good news is that you do have the ability to recapture that time and use it to make a more positive impact at work — all while decreasing stress. This can be achieved by recognizing and ditching these three common habits that are nothing more than a drain on your time, energy and productivity at work:
1. Stop arguing with reality.
Many professionals have adopted a flawed pattern of thinking. They’ve come to believe that they would be happier or more effective if only their circumstances were different. My advice? Don’t follow this pattern. Stop playing the victim, accept that which is beyond your control and focus on how you can succeed in spite of your challenges.
2. Ditch the drama.
The majority of stress is usually self-imposed. The truth is that your reality is never as harsh as you think it is. For example, what if a client has several last minute changes to a proposal you sent them? You may take it as a sign that they don’t like your ideas or value your work. But if you back out of that story, all you know for sure is that they needed edits made at the last minute.
Consider this: What if they had been traveling and didn’t have time to review it sooner? What if their goals had changed for the project? In these situations, you must ask yourself, “What do I know for sure to be true?” It’s a great way to edit your story and get back to the facts. Stop believing everything you think, and use your energy in a way that serves — not sabotages — your career.
3. Remember, suffering is not mandatory.
There are two ways to go through a busy day — with joy or suffering. You must make a point to consistently call yourself to greatness, otherwise you run the risk of getting caught up in the negative banter. When there’s a full schedule for the day, will you default to suffering? Is your day really ruined by a late order or last-minute meeting? Make it a habit to choose joy, and stop viewing what is in front of you as a source of pain and stress. Instead, consider it a new opportunity with new possibilities for self-growth.
We all have pressing circumstances and responsibilities in life. But if you want to be more productive, have less stress and free up precious energy at work, stay grounded in reality. Resist the urge to feed into drama and other self-sabotaging habits, and work to conserve your energy for making an impact within your company. The rewards will be worth it — for you and your organization.