Q: There are days when I like my work and look forward to the things I need to do and the people I need to meet with. There are other days when I dread the same tasks. What can I do to have a more consistent perspective?
A: My hunch is that it's about context, and understanding the circumstances that set you up for a positive day.
Start with the story of the good day. And treat it like a story that happened to someone else, either writing it or recording it to get a bit of emotional distance. What happened? How did you feel going into the situation, and how did you feel as it wrapped up? Then take a step back in time. What was the day before like? How about the preceding week? What about the week to come? Do the same with a hard day, envisioning the hard tasks themselves, and then building rich content around them
Having told the stories, take a step back and see what you can observe. It would not be surprising to find that the differences in experience are driven by your general energy level. When you are less positive about the day ahead, are you feeling depleted? Have you been busier than usual? Perhaps you've had less time to yourself or been in crisis management mode for a project. If you're working in an adrenaline-soaked role, this would be even more likely.
Understanding is good, but what are you going to do about it? For example, if you find that you don't have energy for the people you have to meet after a week of travel, you can't necessarily clear your calendar. You can, however, identify other rechargers that can help you get through. Look for clues in your "good day" story. Maybe you feel best when you've had time to prep for your meetings. If this is a point of differentiation between good and bad, start scheduling prep time on your calendar so that you can feel more ready. If too much back to back does you in, try scheduling 45-minute meetings instead of an hour to give yourself time to breathe. In most cases, this will be plenty of time to accomplish the meeting objective (and other people will thank you).
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the tried and true self-care. We all know it, and when we do it, it makes a difference. So remember to get enough sleep, eat foods that give you energy, if you drink, drink in moderation, and stay active. Engaging in a spiritual practice can also help you stay grounded. Also be sure to build in opportunities for some laughs to keep the positive energy flowing.
Regardless of what you do, there will be some days when you just don't feel like doing what needs to be done. Give yourself rewards when you succeed with a task (even if it's just a YouTube moment at your desk) and don't beat yourself up. Notice, though, if the bad starts to outweigh the good so that you can plan next steps when and if you need a more major change.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.