“When the waters drop, the rocks appear.” Chinese proverb
As the summer season winds down, we continue to experience volatility in our lives. At times, we seem to be fighting a battle between health, wellness, and safety versus security, and financial and career stability. Our ability to persevere and move through these times is being severely tested by burnout, fatigue and sheer physical exhaustion; and for many the well is already dry.
For those who have struggled to remain in their homes or dwellings over the past year or longer, federal and state relief programs created some level of stability. With that funding either set to expire or under challenge by landlords, many individuals and families will face evictions, creating a new level of housing instability. Other individuals, for whom life may have “returned to normal,” are reminded by the surge of the Delta variant across the globe, that we remain impacted by the persistence of COVID-19. States are exploring or have already mandated proof of vaccination for citizens to move around in spaces, and employees and employers in large organizations are struggling with full return to work deadlines that are continuous moving targets. Parents and caregivers around the country who looked forward to taking their children to school or moving their young adults into university this month and the next, find themselves in the same place as a year ago; worrying about their children’s health and safety.
The moves you may be contemplating could be either personal or professional, but the question remains the same; If our energy reserves are depleted, how can we continue to MOVE forward in persistent unknown terrain when we have been longing for stable times that have yet to arrive? It is important to not lose sight of the fact that you can still MOVE forward during times of persistent uncertainty.
Maintain Momentum - How can we begin to address those “rocks'' hidden under the water of our everyday lives? Urgent situations sometimes reveal with clarity those things we need to do to achieve the outcomes we desire, but when overlaid with depletion and exhaustion we may be dealing with more confusion instead of clarity. Momentum maintenance requires that we stand still and reassess before aggressively moving forward. While it may feel that we are doing nothing, taking that time to reflect allows us to be intentional and strategic about our next steps. This pause can help to ensure that we are bringing the necessary energy to create the momentum we really do need to effectively charge forward.
Overcome Obstacles - Exhaustion and burnout are real and navigating stressful decisions from that position can create overwhelm, fear, anxiety, grief and a host of other negative emotions. Give yourself time to work through the negativity as this can affect your ability to initiate momentum and create the outcomes you desire. However, if it is taking longer than expected, or you find yourself unable to cope, getting support may help to make the job easier.
Validate your Voice - Honor your voice and set boundaries around when it is time for you to speak and when it is time to be silent. In this age of emails we are constantly “speaking” via electronic communication and social media when it would be healthier for us to be silent or at the very least take a break. An interesting article about the learnings at Thrive revealed that even when an individual on their team was on vacation, they were still responding to many emails. So, the company set a new boundary in their “Thrive Away” plan: If an email was sent to an employee on vacation, the sender was alerted that the recipient was on vacation and that email was deleted. They prioritized the health of their employees. What is important to you and what can you control? If you are burnt out, managing your communication boundaries becomes even more important for replenishing your reserves.
Empower through Education - “Teachers open the door - you enter by yourself,” states this Chinese proverb. Never forget that you have the power to be a lifelong learner and change agent. Research and reach out to others to learn what you can do to prepare yourself for the next steps you may have to take in your personal life or career. If the move you are considering is a job or career change, learn more about our online course.
One final way to persevere when the rocks appear is to re-educate yourself on all that life has given you. You may have focused so much on the negative that you have completely forgotten the positive. Consider starting a gratitude journal and every day try to record three reasons why you are thankful. If you can only think of one thing for the day, then start with that. Even the small things can count, such as being thankful that you had a restful night of sleep. You may also be thankful that you had a nice meal that day or that your child helped with a chore, unprompted. A gratitude journal can help you to replenish that depleted well by helping you to: slow down, appreciate the little things in life, and find positivity in the everyday.
If nothing else, momentum maintenance requires acknowledging how far you have traveled on your journey, and rewarding yourself with the knowledge that you were built to MOVE forward through the peaks and the valleys.