If winter sets in, can spring be far behind?
It can be difficult to see ourselves and our behaviours objectively, and if this is the case, it is worth asking for feedback from someone you trust at work. If this is done as part of an appraisal, you could use the appraisal system to support you in cha
Every year, whenever, I see flowers blooming in my garden, I hail the advent of spring by echoing these immortal verses of Shelley. These verses from PB Shelley’s poem "Ode to the West Wind" that I read long ago assume a prophetic message year after year. This curious combination of "33 letters" has put a stamp of positivity to all the winters of my life - both personal and professional, so much so that it gives a sense of harmony, of balance of equipoise in all that life has to offer.
Winter symbolises death
Winter symbolises death and depression, trials and tribulations, pangs and throngs, miseries and sufferings. Spring on the other hand, stands for buoyant spirit, happiness and mirth, pulsating thrill and rejuvenating life, fragrance and aroma, light and hope. There is a sense of blood-curdling awe in the atmosphere when biting winds of winter penetrating one’s body send chilling sensations to the very bones. Bones crackle. Life comes to a standstill, cold grows unbearable and a strange numbness grips the body. Body stiffens and even a minor limb-movement causes excruciating pain. Winter’s ferocity is all pervasive. Leaves develop wrinkles and trees shed them. Trees are penalised for this. They put on a bleak look. Birds forget singing and feel as if some invisible power has clipped their wings. Fields look desolate. The sky looks gloomy. Winter seems to be endless.
But it is not so. Winter can’t perpetuate its ferocity. It can’t rule eternally. It is soon pushed back by the spring. All powerful and ferocious winter trembles at the very sight of the spring. It pleads to lengthen its lifespan. But no way out. Refreshing spring winds begin to blow. Their caressing touch makes fauna and flora rub its eyes to a pulsating dawn. Birds start singing. They soar high up in the azure. Streams start dancing and trees look all fresh. Flowers bloom, buds flower out and the whole atmosphere goes intoxicating with fragrance. Spring’s authority is established. The same thing happens to our lives…. in our careers. There are moments when our careers are just another chores, our jobs just drudgery, our bosses breathe down our necks like winter winds. It becomes unbearable and frustrating. The sheer monotony of our jobs, with the politics that the entire office seems to play takes a toll on us that we lose our selfesteem. “I cannot change the system,” how many times have you told yourself this? The enjoyment and passion that we once felt towards our jobs gets eroded and we feel numb and paralysed. Whether you work in cleaning jobs or accountancy jobs, there are ways to come out of the winter and hail the spring. There are some steps you can take and then let nature take its own course and lead to spring.
However, miserable the circumstances may be, there are some ways to blank the slate and help yourself to grow and reach your potential at work. Rest of the course correction is done by nature at work.
Take the time to do an honest assessment of yourself at work; your strengths and weaknesses and your positive and negative habits. What are you good at? What do you struggle with? What habits support you and your work and what habits drain you or stop you enjoying or achieving as much as you would like to in your work? It is worth walking through an "average" day in your job and seeing where you spend your time and how you really feel about the things you do and how you do them. If you have been in your role for a long time, much of what you do at work may be done on autopilot. Take a step back and look objectively at how you work and see if there are any changes you could make that would make a difference to your experience of work or how you perform.
For example, if you are consistently rushing and feeling stressed about getting to work on time, what could you do to change that habit? Could you get up ten minutes earlier? Prepare everything for work the night before? Breaking bad habits is about making life easier and more efficient. What would your workdays be like if you start arriving prepared and relaxed? A small change can make a big difference. Decide what works for you and what doesn’t. Everyone is different. For one person, not having a break could be their bad habit whereas for another person, the bad habit may be that they are constantly taking breaks, which interrupts the flow of their work. Be honest about what works and doesn’t work for you.
It can be difficult to see ourselves and our behaviours objectively, and if this is the case, it is worth asking for feedback from someone you trust at work. You could ask a colleague or supervisor that you feel comfortable sharing with, to give you feedback. If this is done as part of an appraisal, you could use the appraisal system to support you in changing your habits by setting goals for yourself for the next meeting. What could make the most difference to our performance at work isn’t always immediately obvious to us. Most people do the things that they know will work, but a good mentor or coach can be instrumental in helping you reach the next level. Often a small change in behaviour or outlook can make a big difference.
Do you find yourself thinking something at work cannot be changed, including yourself and your own behaviour? If this is the case, catch yourself and remind yourself that you are creating a new start and fresh perspective around your work. Have you ever noticed that a newer colleague often brings ideas to the table that longer serving colleagues have given up on? Catch cynical thoughts as they arise and recommit to a new perspective. Refuse to be drawn into cynicism or gossip about "things never changing".
Acknowledge your achievements
Most people struggle with this to some degree, but it is a habit that is worth cultivating. Don't take yourself and anything you do for granted. Appreciate yourself and your contribution. If you find this difficult, you could set yourself the task of writing down five achievements at the end of every workday. It is amazing what a difference focusing on the positive can do for your motivation and self esteem and it really can change the day-to-day experience of your job!
Make every challenge an opportunity
Clichéd as it may sound, there are two ways you can look at an impending doom. You can look at it as a challenge, your boss’ ploy to put you down, or you may take it as an opportunity to learn. Life at work will always give you stimuli in the form of increase in sales targets, streamlining operations, acquiring a new skill, setting a new goal, and the like. You may crib about it and curse everyone for shoving it on you, or you may choose your response to improve and escalate yourself to achieve the newly defined goal.
Someone has rightly said, "Between every stimuli and response is life…before every success, there is strife." (The writer is a Punjab- based education counsellor with 12 years of experience. She can be contacted at email@example.com )