“I don’t know, it just seems like you’re trying too hard,” she wrote.
That’s the feedback I received when I recently asked a colleague to look over my marketing materials.
At first I was angry. I thought, “what am I supposed to do with that?! That’s not good feedback!”
“Is there anything more annoying than nonspecific feedback,” I ranted to no one in particular.
Then it hit me.
The reason her feedback bothered me is because I was trying too hard. Yikes.
I looked back at my efforts the past few weeks and I realized the reason I was feeling frustrated and stuck was because I was trying too hard in just about every area of my business.
I call it the “I just need to work harder” mentality. Maybe you recognize this pattern in yourself.
When something isn’t working, do you try harder? Do you decide you need to do more? Do you say, “I just need to figure this out!”
Yes, my friends, all of those statemetns are variations on trying too hard. They’re also the patterns of people that try to control the uncontrollable.
Sure, we can call ourselves “determined”. We might describe ourselves as “hard working”, “thorough”, and even “results-oriented”. We may also call ourselves “stubborn”, “type A”, or “perfectionists“.
The problem with trying too hard is it’s not going to get results. Admit it, we feel better when we’re taking action, and “figuring it out” is just another way for us to distract ourselves from the pain of frustration, discomfort, or- gulp- failure.
The moment I realized I was trying too hard is when I realized I needed to stop trying too hard. I needed to do less, not more. Success happens when I doing the right things, not do more things. It’s about doing my best and forgetting the rest. All I have to do is take a deep breath, trust myself, and be myself.
Oh, so simple, isn’t it?
So tell me, friends, will you join me and stop trying too hard?
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As a Career Coach, I work with career professionals and entrepreneurs who are looking to level up. They are usually looking for work or looking to increase their income. There are lots of tools and support I use to work with clients to help them reach their goals.
There is one tip I give every client I work with.
That’s right, one piece of advice that works for everyone in every situation! This advice works for everyone equally.
Now when I tell you what it is, you might think I’m crazy. You might protest, “but, Chrysta, what does this have to do with finding a job, getting a raise, getting clients?!”
So I hope you’ll bear with me for a minute here because I promise you, it works. And it might not be what you think. I encourage you to be open to the tip I’m about to share.
Before I tell you, I want to share how it’s worked in my life- very specifically the last two weeks.
A LOT has happened in the last two weeks. The floor drain backed up and partially flooded our basement. Then it was my husband’s birthday party, followed by his birthday. A few days later I participated in a 2-day event I’ve been planning for 6 months. While I was out-of-town at the event, my cat went missing. That weekend I moved into my new office. The very next day our garage door opener broke. A few days after that we found my cat.
That’s a lot to happen in two months, let alone two weeks. And through it all I stayed relatively balanced, centered, and ready to face the day. How did I do it? From this simple tip I have to share with you.
Are you ready?
My best career tip is to start a regular gratitude practice. Write a daily gratitude list and I do mean write- put it down on paper. Take 60 seconds each day to pause, reflect, and be grateful.
Yep, that’s it. Be grateful.
Still skeptical? Let me tell you why it works.
A regular gratitude practice gives you something positive and hopeful to hold onto no matter what happens in your day. In this way gratitude is an anchor to the good stuff in your life.
Gratitude tempers the highs and lows, the ups and downs. Gratitude helps you connect to the present, grounding you in good things you have right here, right now.
Gratitude also boosts your energy and mood, giving you an extra reserve of motivation, and helping you face challenges as they come.
I’ve heard lots of advice from successful entrepreneurs and gurus that suggest starting a variety of daily habits- from getting up early, to daily exercise, to meditation. It’s true, all of these positive habits will help you be more successful. But what I like about starting a gratitude practice is it’s so easy to do! The best thing about starting a gratitude practice is it takes very little time and everyone can do it. Gratitude will help you be more successful in all you do!
So, that’s it. Start a regular gratitude practice. Write down a gratitude list every day. Notice the difference in your overall attitude, energy level, and ability to handle problems.
If you get discouraged, start a gratitude practice.
If you’re feeling stressed, start a gratitude practice.
If your energy is low, start a gratitude practice.
If you’re feeling great, start a gratitude practice.
It won’t solve your problems but it will help you be prepared to solve them. Give it a try and see what happens!
If you find this advice helpful, sign up for my newsletter and get more tips, tricks, and positive motivation!Join the Conversation
For many years, I found it much easier to say no in personal situations and much harder to say no in professional situations. I feared being labeled “uncooperative” or “difficult”, and I was afraid saying no could even cost me my job.
I’ll never forget the time in early 20s when the CEO of the company asked me to work late and I said no. I was so nervous but I said it anyway. Or, well, what I actually said was, “I can’t stay late tonight. Can I get that report to you first thing tomorrow morning?” His response went something like, “okay, sure.”
HE WASN’T MAD. I DIDN’T GET FIRED. EVERYTHING WAS OKAY.
Huh, go figure.
Thinking back on my career, I can’t think of a time I regretted saying no. I can think of plenty of times I regretted saying yes.
Since I started my career coaching business, it’s even more important to say no. Saying no is a way to set boundaries with clients. It increases trust and accountability.
Saying no is the difference between succeeding and failing as an entrepreneur. Fortunately I get plenty of practice saying no with dignity and integrity.
When to say no
Saying no is one of the topics I often speak about in public. In my presentation, Communicating with Confidence in Business, I talk about why it’s so important to say no in business and how to do it.
Really, knowing when to say no is pretty simple.
Are you ready for it?
Say no when you’re unwilling or unable to agree.
See, I told you it was simple.
Easier said than done, am I right? Those fears I had before haven’t gone away. I still fear what people might think of me. I still fear loosing work because I say no.
I say no anyway. I say no because when people can trust my word, they know they can trust me. I say no because I don’t want to say yes and do a crappy job. I say no because if I don’t take care of my health and happiness I’ll be sick and miserable.
And then I realized my presentation was missing something. I was talking about when to say no, but I wasn’t talking about when to say yes.
I considered my own professional and business experienced and realized it’s just as important to know when to say yes as it is to know when to say no.
When to say yes
We are presented with opportunities every day- opportunities to get out of a rut, to change our situation, to challenge ourselves, to grow.
By my own advice I could let myself off the hook by saying no to a new opportunity but here’s the thing- when an opportunity is life-changing, it’s easy to say no. It’s much easier to do what I’ve been doing than do something different. Opportunities that require growth are scary, and it’s tempting to say no but that’s exactly when I should say yes.
It’s always going to be hard to say yes to change but if the change is for good then it’s worth it to face the fear and say yes.
The next time you’re faced with a choice, ask yourself if you’re being offered the opportunity to grow. If you’re being given an opportunity to change your situation for the better, you better say yes.
I’m going to test this out right here, right now.
If you’re in a job you hate, if you’re stuck in a career rut, if you know you have more to contribute at work- I am offering you the chance to change.
Maybe you’re in a job you should have left years ago. Maybe you know you were meant for something bigger and better. Maybe you’re tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck. Maybe you’ve tried to find another job and it seemed like staying put was your only option.
Most people reading this will say no to this opportunity. That’s okay. I’m looking for just one or two people who are ready to say yes. People who are scared but willing to face their fear for an awesome payoff.
“Chrysta really gave me the insight on where I was cutting myself short and what I should do to lift myself out of the slump I was having. So far I am starting my own business and slowly creating a client base along with a thicker portfolio and new connections.” –Rebecca Robinson
Email me at email@example.com to schedule some time to talk about your career. If you say yes to this opportunity, I’ll help you figure out why you’re stuck and what needs to change.
“Chrysta has helped me with many professional struggles and always guided me to my truth. She is an ace you want in your pocket! “ -Amanda Oliver
Are you ready to say yes?Join the Conversation
Someone is bound to piss you off at some point in your career. Even the most rational and reasonable people get angry sometimes. I certainly do.
So, you get angry at your boss, a co-worker, or client. What do you do? How do you handle yourself professionally?
For years I didn’t get angry. Or, well, I suppose I did and I just held that anger back until it started to eat away at me. I was prone to depression. My health suffered. I tried to keep the peace by letting it go but what I thought was letting go was actually ignoring it. Obviously this is not a healthy way to address anger in the workplace!
I’ve worked with people who handle anger quite differently from me. They lash out in anger, raising their voice, making accusations, and blaming others. I can’t say what it’s like to be that person, but lashing out in anger doesn’t seem to benefit them and it certainly doesn’t benefit me to be on the receiving end. This response to conflict is no better than holding it back.
I recently got pissed off at someone I work with. In the moment, I shut down. Then I started to think about a better way to handle the situation and realized I already knew a better way! Here are 6 questions I asked myself to handle the situation professionally.
6 Questions to Address Conflict at Work
01. How important is it?
Anger feels pretty significant in the moment, but it’s important to ask yourself, “how important is it?”
Is your ability to do your job affected? Did the situation cause irreparable harm to you or your career? Will this incident matter in a week? How about a month? How about next year?
Putting the conflict in perspective makes it easier to address.
02. What’s your part?
While someone else’s behavior may have been out-of-line, chances are so was yours. What’s your part in the conflict?
Did you communicate expectations clearly? Did you ask for more information? Did you give the other person a chance to talk? Did you treat the other person with respect?
Taking responsibility for your part in conflict builds confidence, authenticity, and authority. When you own your part of the problem, you can own your part of the solution. And, it’s easier to be compassionate with others when you acknowledge you screwed up, too.
03. What do you need?
When someone pisses you off, it’s important to take a time-out to attend to your needs.
Do you need a break? Do you need a glass of water, or to go for a walk?
Take care of yourself and you’ll be ready to approach the situation with a clear head.
04. What happened?
Instead of assuming you have all the facts, stay open and curious about what happened. Ask for more information.
What happened? Why? What is the other person’s perspective on the conflict?
Staying curious will help you understand the other person as well as the problem. Finding out what really happened leads to better relationships and better solutions.
05. What’s your motivation?
When you consider addressing the conflict, consider your motivation.
Do you want the other person to feel embarrassed or ashamed? Do you want to be heard? Do you want an apology? Do you want a mutually beneficial resolution?
Understand your motive before you try to address the conflict.
06. Can we talk about what happened?
When you’re ready to address the conflict, ask for permission to discuss it.
Is this a good time? Can we talk about what happened?
Getting permission puts you both on equal footing and starts the conversation with respect and courtesy.
The next time someone pisses you off at work, use these 6 questions to resolve conflict with self-assurance, confidence, and increase your chances for a positive resolution.
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Every office has one- the office bully. That person who intimidates and manipulates those around him- disrupting work, destroying morale, and making everyone in the office as miserable as he is.
I’ve worked with bullies who were my co-workers, my employees, and my boss. It mattered little if I was the manager or the employee- an office bully bullies indiscriminately, and the effect is the same regardless of hierarchy.
Office bullies have a particularly powerful effect on introverts as we tend to internalize our experiences. In her book Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, Laurie A. Helgoe wrote, “Introverts tend to internalize problems. In other words, we place the source of problems within and blame ourselves. Though introverts may also externalize and see others as the problem, it’s more convenient to keep the problem ‘in house’.” Many introverts struggle to detach from the behavior of the office bully and may find our job performance scrutinized when dealing with a bully at work.
Common traits of the office bully include gossiping, criticism disguised as concern, hoarding information, exaggerating or misrepresenting situations, and playing the victim.
The office bully may be respected and well-liked around the office as they position themselves as an authority at the expense of others.
Office bullies may show genuine compassion and kindness- virtues they aspire to but are often unable to maintain.
Office bullying is often overlooked as bullies make everyone uncomfortable yet manage to fly under the radar- avoiding responsibility and shifting blame to those around them.
Unfortunately, it is often those around the bully who pay the price for his bad behavior. Those of us who work with office bullies are likely to quit or worse, get fired. (Yes, it’s happened to me!)
Common traits of the office bully include gossiping, criticism disguised as concern, hoarding information, exaggerating or misrepresenting situations, and playing the victim.
I’ve observed office bullies up close and from afar. I’ve watched management handle them poorly and handle them well. I’ve been on the receiving end of their lies and misdirection and I’ve seen other good people take the fall. I don’t want it to happen to you (or me, again).
How to deal with the office bully
Keep it professional
Office bullies will use information to manipulate situations and people so avoid giving them more to work with. Keep your conversations and relationships professional. Avoid discussing personal topics and do not accept their friend request on Facebook!
While you want to limit your personal contact with a bully you do want to maintain a friendly attitude, remaining kind and pleasant. For example, saying “good morning” and “good night”. A friendly attitude will minimize conflict with the bully and show you can handle yourself with grace and aplomb.
Process your emotions
The office bully benefits from getting you to react emotionally. They’ll show you their emotions in one-on-one interactions then play it cool around other people, making you appear unstable, irrational, or unreasonable. Be aware of your emotions dealing with the office bully and don’t let them control you. Notice what you’re feeling and express it in healthy ways such as working it out through exercise, journaling, or confiding in a trusted mentor or friend.
Yes, working with an office bully sucks but complaining will only keep you in the pain of it, focused on the negative. If you find yourself repeating your complaints to anyone who will listen, it’s time to stop complaining and focus on something else instead.
Working with a bully will drain your resources so this is a time to up your self-care. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, eat right, have fun- do whatever keeps you strong and healthy.
Keep good records
It’s always smart to keep track of your tasks and accomplishments at work. When dealing with an office bully, it’s even more important to document expectations, agreements, deadlines, and progress. Keeping a record of your good work will keep you motivated, help you focus on your work, and may defend your position if the bully makes a false accusation towards you.
Do good work
If you work with an office bully there’s a good chance you’ll start focusing on the behavior of the bully more than your own work- don’t fall into this trap! Do good work and continue to do your best every day. Focusing on your work can distract you from the bully, give you a sense of control over your situation, and keep you from taking the blame for reduced productivity.
While bullies may make a good impression initially, they will often reveal their true nature with time. If you find yourself working with an office bully be patient, focus on your work, and try to ride it out.
Sometimes work bullies are higher up in the organization and manage to stick around for years. In this situation, you may want to transfer out of the bully’s sphere of influence, or it may be in your best interest to find another job. In the meantime, do your best to be your best self and rise above a difficult situation.
Have you successfully dealt with an office bully? Please share your experience in the comments!
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It was one of those days. One of those days when I left work I was just done. One of those days that left me feeling drained and exhausted.
All said and done, this bad work day is nothing more than a series of less-than-ideal experiences. My life is neither better nor worse for a bad day at work. But as I sat down to write, and believe me, I didn’t want to, I got to thinking about getting over the bad-day slump. What am I going to make of this day?
Oh, that’s right, I get to decide what to make of this day. The frustration and stress are over now. Am I really going to let this unpleasant experience ruin my evening, too?
The answer is no.
Moving past a bad day isn’t just about feeling better. A positive attitude helps you get more done, appreciate life more, and other people are more likely to appreciate you. And the more people appreciate you, the more likely you are to get recognized and rewarded at work. I want more good stuff at work, don’t you?
So that got me thinking about how I can turn around a bad day. And I can think of lots of ways. Then I thought, “this would make a pretty good blog post!”
So maybe you had a bad day, too. And maybe you are going to take responsibility for yourself and your happiness. Maybe you’re looking for ways to move on from a bad day. I got you covered.
How to turn around a bad day
Get your body moving!
Exercise releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings. So get your body moving. Take a walk. Dance to your favorite song. Go for a bike run. Go for a run. It doesn’t matter how you move your body as long as you move it!
Eat a delicious meal
Studies show that eating can also release stress-reducing endorphins. Dark chocolate and spicy foods are specifically known to boost good feelings. Maybe sometimes it’s okay to eat for your mood.
Drink a cool, tall glass of water
Did you know even mild hydration can negatively affect your mood? It’s true. So drink a tall glass of refreshing H2O because hydration makes you happy!
Gratitude is an instant mood-lifter! Take out a piece of paper and write down what you’re grateful for- anything and everything you’re grateful for- including things you enjoy about your work. Try to list at least 10 things. You’re probably feeling better already!
When you complain you revisit a negative experience over and over again. If your complaint won’t result in a change in your situation, well, what’s the point of complaining? Why keep yourself in that pain?
Find a healthy way to release feelings of anger, stress, disappointment, and frustration.
You can try imagining filling a backpack with your complaints, taking the pack off your back and setting it on the floor. If you start to feel the weight of it, take it off again.
You might try journaling about your day and turn the page, leaving your journal open to an empty page.
Take my suggestions or make up your own! The important thing it so find some way to give a voice to your frustrations and then release them.
Make a change
If you find you have a bad day at work more often than not, it may be time to make a change in your career.
I’m a career coach with 100% success rate getting clients hired, promoted, and negotiating raises. If it’s time to make a change in your career, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary Love Your Work strategy session.
Tell me, what do you do when you’ve had a bad day at work? How do you turn it around?Join the Conversation