How to Control Feeling Out of Control

Sometimes work sucks.

But you already knew that, didn't you?

Sometimes, that very thing you've worked your whole adult life to achieve; that very thing that most hours of most days you mostly like, well, sometimes it sucks.

The core of the conversation is the question: "what changes this for you?"

Now this question - what changes for you? - is really about owning the situation, whatever situation that is. What can you do? What's in your control to help you when everything seems to be spiraling?
 

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Make a list of all the things you can start right now, things that will help you claim a bit of sanity back. Certainly, these aren't going to solve all the huge unwieldy problems going on at your office, but they will give you a small sense of control at the precise time you feel utterly out of control.

So before you go and scream, "I quit" at the top of your lungs, do realize that there are a few things under your control when it comes to getting back in balance.

Things you can control:

1. The time you arrive and leave the office - If you are coming in at 6 am...stop. If you are staying til 8 pm...stop. Trust me, if there is that much work it requires you to come in so stinkin' early and stay so late, it will all still be there no matter what hours you work. Do something for you in the morning (workout, meditate, walk the kids to school, whatever makes you smile inside), THEN start your workday. When the rest of the day goes to hell in a hand basket (as we know it will), at least you've already done one thing that's been personally rejuvenating.

2. Whether and when you check into the office - Imagine you took a couple days off and then proceeded to take multiple calls and respond to emails the entire time. Whaa? It's called a day off because you are supposed to be OFF. I completely understand if you say things will be easier when you return if you do these couple things while you on vacation, yet that's the antithesis of having time off. You must reclaim the hours outside of work and make them sacred for you and your family.

3. Invoking the 5/5/5 rule. When you feel overwhelmed, ask "Will this matter in 5 days? In 5 months? In 5 years?" Then, rearrange a few things on you priority list by asking these questions. That conference call on a Sunday night that caused you to miss your son's first karate competition? That's gonna matter to your relationship with your son in 5 years. It makes decisions like that super clear.

4. Saying no. We're people pleasers and more often than not that means we say yes to everything. Sure, I'll bake cookies for the school carnival. Sure, I'll host book club. Sure, I'll cover the meeting for you. Sure, I'll run myself ragged doing things that absolutely don't help me get out of this situation. Say no. Look at all the activities you are committing yourself to both at work and at home. In a state of overwhelm, something needs to go.

It's true, sometimes work sucks. But you don't have to feel helpless, even if it seems things will never change. Take control over these small things and perhaps you'll find some calm in that storm.

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