It’s happening again.
Before I know it – without a conscious thought – “it” transforms from an innocent concern into a life-changing catastrophe. It changes from a passing thought to an unstoppable force that morphs into a dramatic even. An event that only happens in my mind, with little (if any) basis in reality. It becomes a never ending cycle of negativity that builds upon itself, mutates, and then buries me.
Before I know it I’ve turned a small ripple of discontent in my life into a tsunami that washes away everything else in my head and replaces it with fragments of debilitating thought debris. I latch onto this negative thought and start retelling my story with the worst possible outcome. I instantly find proof of my thoughts; examples that make me think this must be fact and the last chapter has already been written.
I work for a large company that restructures itself whenever it’s necessary to catch a shift in the market, be more agile and productive, or gain competitive advantage. It feels like we reorganize every few months but in reality it’s every few years.
Early on in my career an upcoming reorganization would trigger this thought pattern: this is happening again? I am probably getting yet another new manager. I have to start all over again and prove myself. My job will probably change. I bet it won’t be as challenging, rewarding, and fun as my current role. How am I supposed to grow my career when my role, responsibilities, chain of command, and everything else changes every 6-12 months? And oh.my.goodness…what if I get LAID OFF?
Then I have a choice. I can perpetuate the cycle or stop it in its tracks.
The former is easy. The original thought quickly leads to more thoughts like “this always happens. I knew it would go this way. This is just the way it is.”
The latter is hard and often seems impossible. My mission – my choice – is to find a better feeling thought. Thoughts that feel a little better, then good, then great, then become something I can act on. Thoughts like “Change can be good. This could be an opportunity. What’s coming next is going to be even better.”
My company is currently restructuring. While I have my moments of anxiety and trepidation, I also feel quite comfortable, if not excited at what lies ahead.
My thoughts are the same but the tone is different. Now it feels more like anticipation that I am at the door, holding the key, about to unlock my future; what lies on the other side of that door is nothing short of outstanding.
It goes something like this: My job is going to change; I’ll be able to take on more responsibility in the area I love: coaching and mentoring. I’ll get a new manager and that’s ok; she will get to know me quickly, see my value, and want to give me challenging assignments that are in direct alignment to my long term career aspirations. New opportunities will open up in the company; soon positions on our corporate coaching and professional development teams will open and I can’t wait to learn about them. And the potential for layoff? Never even entered my mind.
All it took was a single thought to lead me down the path of opportunity instead of insanity.
My thought pattern years ago brought me to the edge of insanity. A place where I thought the same thing over and over again and got the same results time-after-time: stress, anxiety, and in a few extreme cases, depression.
A slow, calculated pivot to better feeling thoughts led me to a better feeling place.
“It’s happening again” turned into “It’s happening again and this could be great!”
“I knew it would go this way” turned into “I can influence the process or the outcome”
“This is just the way it is” turned into “it can be better. All I have to do is [action is situation-dependent]”
The thoughts in between are the life changers.
Ultimately I’ve learned that I can’t get from a place of extreme discomfort and anxiety (“I am going to lose my job!” to a place of supreme confidence (“This is the launching pad for my next career move!”) without thinking the thoughts in between these ends of the spectrum (“I am recognized and rewarded for my work. I have a lot to offer the company. I am respected by my peers and leadership team. New organizational structures can open doors to new opportunities…”)
So how did I get from “this is the most terrible thing ever” to “I couldn’t have even imagined it could be so good”?
My favorite tool is “what, why, how” which I learned from the QSCA. I ask myself:
What do I want?
Why do I want it?
How will it make me feel?
It’s so simple and it always brings me a fresh perspective. A better thought that leads to an even better thought that leads to a good thought that leads to a great thought that leads to something incredible.
This is how I am rebuilding my life…one thought at a time.