I am fortunate to have a spouse who brings home The Wall Street Journal from work every day. Despite my fierce loyalty to The New York Times, I consume the WSJ the way some people swallow Tic Tacs handfuls at a time.
One of my favorite WSJ columnists, Sue Shellenbarger, dominated the front page of the 4/27/16 Personal Journal section. Her article’s headline, now burrowed deep inside my overactive left parietal lobe, declared: “Don’t Let the Bad Week Win.”
Just substitute the words “first quarter of 2016” for “week” and … score, a direct hit.
You see, I ended March 2016 with a personal high-water mark: my son’s Bar Mitzvah. I also ended it with a professional question mark: Why am I struggling to get my copywriting/editing business back on track, now that I’m liberated from my “simcha servitude?”
Ms. Shellenberger’s article didn’t just touch a nerve. It triggered my nervous system to go haywire with an intense need for something somewhat unfamiliar to me: tranquility.
I reread the article several times. Finally, a moment of clarity: Why limit myself to erecting mental barricades against a bad week? (Please tell me you’re head-nodding and saying “exactly!” to yourself.)
If nothing else, memorize the phrase “don’t let the bad week win,” and carry on (wayward son or daughter)…
Don’t Let the Bad Thoughts/Self-Perceptions Win: Per Ms. Shellenbarger’s article: Once you perceive a pattern in a series of random mishaps, adversity’s trickle seems to transform into the swirling rapids of a white-water rafting trip.
It’s unnerving how the human mind can be its own worst demoralizer. I know that you know the mental and emotional implications.
I don’t consider myself an amateur psychologist, therapist, or social worker. But when I need help taming my “bad” thoughts, I seek ways to help myself cope better. Like you, I wholeheartedly wish to step back from negativity’s addictive, defeatist edge before going airborne.
Nowadays, TED Talks are all the rage. Perhaps it’s the sound of someone else’s voice drowning out your internal “Debbie (or Dougie) Downer” that makes it easier to adjust your attitude.
Don’t spin your jangled perceptions into a web of woe; one of these TED Talk videos might be the 10-20 minute pep talk you need. (Compilation credit goes to Lindsay Kolowich of HubSpot…)
Don’t Let the Bad First Impression Win: An awkward meeting at work to discuss the project nobody (except you) will champion. An oddball conversation at a business-networking event. A wobbly discussion with a prospective client. An anticipated job interview that goes so far south, you feel like you’re cliff-diving in Acapulco, Mexico.
We’ve all been on the painful end of a bad first impression.
I honestly believe resolution comes down to two choices: Either you value a positive outcome enough to pursue a second chance, or you have no qualms about letting it go (per Queen Elsa’s advice in Disney’s Frozen).
If the first option is your goal, this quick read from Fast Company might help. It suggests you get outside your head and “seek to understand, not to be understood.”
Another handy resource in your quest for a better impression comes from The Art of Manliness. With help from the lovely people running this manly website, you’ll learn “How to Recover from a Bad First Impression.”
(Ladies, you need not be a man to heed the article’s advice in a womanly way. The Art of Manliness is eminently bookmark worthy.)
Don’t Let the Bad Time Management Win: Even anal-retentive planners (hmm…) go astray from time to time with their precious time.
An important question to ask yourself regarding time management is: Are you productive, or are you merely busy? A tactic that noticeably improved my management of minutes and hours–I abandoned multitasking (yes!) and reverted to my “focus on one to-do at a time” nature.
I’m not a time-management expert, so I’ll defer to the wisdom of others. Some helpful resources:
- Mind Tools’s “10 Common Time Management Mistakes”
- Coaching Positive Performance’s “11 Symptoms of Poor Time Management”
- Merle Margolese Presents… (Local to southern NJ and Philadelphia, PA, Merle offers time-management seminars.)
Don’t Let the Bad Boss or Higher-Up Win: Before I finish this list of all the bad things you shouldn’t let win, let’s get real. Not all supervisors are evil souls. It could be that once elevated to boss status, some of them fulfill what Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull labeled “the Peter Principle.”
(FYI, it’s also the title of an outrageously outré book, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever read!)
I mentioned this decades-old grenade in a previous blog post, but to quote its premise:
“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his [or her] level of incompetence.”
There’s a plenitude of online resources available for learning how to cope/work well with a jerk-like supervisor. One website I like a lot and now keep on speed-dial is The Muse.
The site’s “10 Brilliant Tips for Dealing With a Difficult Boss” is a great starting point for those of you wishing you were somewhere else professionally.
What Else Shouldn’t We Let Win?: I suspect you already know where I’m going with my open-ended question. I enjoy writing long-form blog posts, but I do tend to (r)amble on. What other bad things do you think need conquering?
I’ll leave you with an encore link to Sue Shellenbarger’s WSJ article as a (gentle!) reminder to read it. And remember: Whatever “badness” exists in your personal or professional life at this very moment, choose not to let it win.
Had you read Sue Shellenbarger’s eyeball-worthy column prior to cruising my blog post? What’s your assessment of the article’s main message? How does your perception of a random series of unlucky events influence your ability to cope with such experiences?
When your mind shifts into overdrive regarding unrealistic thoughts, how do you calm yourself down?
Whether you implement the article’s suggestions (imagining yourself in the future, using a superstitious ritual, etc.) or merely take a few deep breaths to regulate your racing pulse, don’t give in to the perceptual snowball effect.
In other words, “don’t let the bad week win…”
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) company in Marlton, New Jersey, that plies its trade via copywriting, editing, and other content-marketing services. She revels in shielding her clients from the time-consuming pain of writing their own print or web marketing and promotional copy.
Please call Lori Shapiro of By All Writes LLC at 856-810-9764 (or e-mail her via firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule the gratis 20-minute consultation that will resolve your current copywriting or editing dilemma…