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THE INC. LIFE

This is An Easy Trick For Dealing With A Bad Day

Make a list. Break the pattern.

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BY Gene Marks - 08 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

"Why am I doing this?" Teanna McDonald, the owner of a media marketing firm asked herself in this Denver Post report from the Associated Press. "Do I really want to do this?" McDonald had reason to be upset. After weeks of hard work, her company had just lost a big proposal to a competitor. McDonald was having a bad day. You get it. So do I.

So does Chris Post. And Jeff Hoffman. And Adrienne Smith. According to the same Denver Post/AP story, all of these business owners have had their bad days too. After an acquisition, Post found himself in a role he disliked. Hoffman's tech business frequently lost work to competing superstores that offered lower prices. Smith found herself in a tough spot when a key employee at her bakery unexpectedly quit. "I prayed and prayed for guidance," she admits.

These people have had bad days. Really bad, down-in-the-dumps, gloomy, depressing, lousy days. Everyone has them. But if you run a business, or you're an executive or leader in a company, your bad days may seem even worse than others...mainly because they affect so many others. When you're down people know it. Negativity feeds negativity. Your team becomes doubtful, uncertain, nervous. As a business owner, I'm not allowed to have bad days. But of course I do. I just can't let anyone know about them. My clients don't want to hear about it. No one does. Everyone is dealing with their own problems. If anything, they want you to pick them...not bring them down.

So what to do when you're having a bad day? I've learned from hundreds of clients that we all have our own ways of dealing with them and no way is any better than the other as long as it works for that person. McDonald, the marketer, leans heavily on her family. Post takes long vacations. Smith turns to God. Fair enough. Me? When I'm having a particularly lousy day I have this easy trick.

I make a list. And then I break the pattern.

When I'm feeling down in the dumps I sit down and list out all the reasons why. Usually there's only a few things on it and - thank goodness - rarely anything health related. It's usually a client problem. OK...maybe two or three client problems. An overdue invoice. A headache with one of my kids. A large bill coming due. A tough situation with an employee. Whatever it is I literally write all that's getting me down. I used to do this in a notebook that I carry with me. Now I keep it on my smartphone.

When I record these problems two things happen. First, I feel a little better after documenting them. It's psychological, I know, but reading them on paper or a screen somehow makes them less personal and less important. The second thing that happens is perspective. Because I've been doing this trick for a long time I always use the opportunity to flip back to the problems that I wrote down weeks, months and even years ago. And you know what? I'm still here! Those issues...what were they again? Oh yeah. These things just eventually get resolved....and then replaced by new problems that will also be ultimately resolved, one way or another, again and again. Perspective gives me comfort.

And then...I break the pattern. I stop what I'm doing and leave. I'll go to a batting cage. Take a long walk. Call a friend I haven't spoken to in a while. Work out. Watch a TV show in the middle of the day (my problems are nothing compared to Rick's battle with Negan in a post-apocalytic world full of walking zombies, am I right?). This is not my invention. I learned many years ago (from an excellent Tony Robbins book which I can't remember the title but they're all excellent) how important it is to "change your state" when you're feeling bad and to do this you have to break the pattern. That means just stopping what you're doing and do something completely unrelated.

So go ahead, the next time you're having a horrible day - and you know that time will come - try this: write down your "problems" and then break the pattern. It's an easy trick. And it works. When you eventually return back to your "problems" you'll find that they're much easier to deal with. And remember, whatever "problems" you have now, you'll be dead and buried a hundred years from now. Just like all the business owners before us and all the people around you who are all wrapped up in their problems too.

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