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

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

Gauri Ch­habra

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.

In­tro­spect

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.

So­licit feed­back

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.

Begin­ners’ mind

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 gau­ri_­nag­pal@ya­hoo.com )

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