By Shea Ki
It's the big day. Your job interview or big presentation is at 10:00am sharp. You put out your best outfit the night before. You planned ahead all you need for a protein-packed, energizing breakfast. You practiced what the real interview or presentation will feel like with a career coach. You received helpful, excellent feedback and feel more confident about how you will represent yourself in the hot seat.
You got this, right?
Fit Hits The Shan
But you wake up with a cough that makes it sound like you could hack out both of your lungs any minute. Every time you try to speak, mucus builds up in your throat and you sound worse than Darth Vadar after he lost a battle on the Death Star. Some type of evil chest cold has got your number and you have to surrender to it.
Or maybe you wake up totally healthy but your car won't start. Or you spill hot coffee all over your best outfit. Then a speeding ticket. Or much worse--there is a family emergency that has to be handled NOW.
The bottomline is that you are going to miss the opportunity you had prepared for and put so much effort and energy into.
Is there anything that can be done to save this day and your professional future?
You could run back under the covers and hide. You could give into the temptation to scream "Why today? WHY ME?" You might feel like you need to kick something, throw something, or break something. The list of how to escalate the damage goes on. None of these reactions will help you move forward.
Step 1: Feel it, then release it
Allow yourself 1 to 5 minutes to feel the intensity of the disapointment or frustration and then release it. Set a timer and then when it goes off, let some of that negative energy go. Holding on to how you wished it had turned out or "if only I had done this or that" will only keep you stuck.
Step 2: Communicate with clarity
Don't throw in the towel yet and give up. There may be a caring, understanding person on the other side of the situation that might surprise you. You need to calmly and carefully see if anyone is willing to keep the door open.
Either by phone or by email, you've got to find out.
Here are a few examples you can make your own style to help repair the unlucky day.
"I can only imagine that these circumstances have come about so that I can show you first hand how I deal with adversity. Your /Our company values thinking on your feet and innovation. If your schedule permits, I am eager to reschedule this opportunity and demonstrate those strengths and other value I can bring to this job/meeting/project."
Or try something a little more creative to find common ground.
"Help me prove that good things can still happen when Murphy's law strikes. I don't want to live in a world where "anything can go wrong will go wrong" and its likely you do not either. Let's reschedule this (interview, meeting, etc.) so we can both discuss the value we know we can offer together."
And if you think that some humor will do more good than harm, use it. But still be specific on what you want to happen and give a call to action.
"So I know my recent emergency that resulted in a missed meeting/no-show at the interview caused you a great inconvenience. If we are not able to reschedule, I may be forced to share my misery with a record label. This means I may possibly have the next Top 40 country song on my hands ("Oh, darlin', no I ain't feeling frisky--I missed my shot, I tanked my future, oh won't you pleaaase pass my whiskey?")
But neither of us really wants to hear that noise on the radio, right?
Eventhough you reached out to make things better, you still might not hear back or get to reschedule. But you can at least rest a little easier knowing you've done what is within your control to fix it.
Fight or Flight
Why is it our bodies or other life circumstances seem to work against us sometimes when we are about to do something BIG? Positive events like an important presentation, promotional opportunity or interview for a job we might love can bring on huge STRESS. When these things we care very much about are getting closer to happening, our inner "fight or flight response" often gets triggered. This puts our insides on high-alert status. It's helpful if a tiger is about to come out and eat you, but this primal way our body reacts to stress is usually more of an energy-sucking and destructive force.
Often we underreact or overreact to stressful events because we are not in the habit of practicing stress relief. The pressure builds up without us sometimes realizing it. Then suddenly we are completely overwhelmed when things don't go our way and blow things up even further ("THIS SUCKS AND MY FUTURE IS OVER!). Or instead we decide to withdraw entirely ("Whatever, I don't really care anyway").
We usually remember to brush our teeth everyday, but we forget to give our stressed out body, mind, and spirit the same type of daily rinse.
Stress relief is like a muscle and has to be strengthened over time. It is also based completely on individual preference and what works well for one person (like yoga) might feel like midevil torture to another. Many people do not know what works best to trigger their natural relaxation and calm down the flight or fight response. Discovering a stress relief practice that soothes you is key to positively handling a highly stressful moment at work--or many bad days in a row.
Relief To The Rescue
We have often heard that starting and keeping a stress relief practice would work wonders for our well being. But in the busy, go-go-go world of work that doesn't mean we do it. Like any new, positive habit, it can be a struggle to maintain.
How about a way to get started or get back on track with your stress relief practice?
I'm offering for you to join me on a free Stress Relief Challenge for 21 days. It's my gift to you for a brighter future at work.
I'll send you guidance for a stress relieving activity to you over email each day throughout the challenge. For 21 days, you'll have accountability and encouragement to ignite and keep up your new, powerful stress relief habit.
Science says that if you start a new, healthy behavior for 21 days it is more likely you will continue the positive habit. This becomes even more possible when you have someone to help keep you accountable.
Invite friends to join in!
Let's do this 21 Day Stress Relief Challenge with @Shea_Ki so we can more easily share our light at work, even on the tougher days.
Your well being and your career deserve this boost.
What can you expect during this 21 Day Stress Relief Challenge? Here are highlights of what your inbox and mind, body, and spirit will be happily receiving:
1st Week Focus: Breathing Deeply
For many people, breathing deeply is not something that comes natural. Sometimes people may have learned how to breathe deeply but actually doing it regularly has been put on the back burner as responsiblities and new pressures mount up.
I see deep breathing as the foundation to any stress relief practice. Without a strong foundation in being comfortable and committed to breathe deeply with ease, all other stressbusters will only have a small effect. But when you combine being skilled at deeply breathing with other stress relief methods, the benefits to your nervous system, focus, and energy at work are enormous.
2nd Week Focus: Affirming Strongly
Your stress relief muscle will be faster and stronger with reinforcement. Affirmations, or positive self-beliefs that you repeat, can help shift us into stress relief mode faster. These powerful statements also help quiet down the negative self-criticism that tries to take over when we are in a high stakes situation. Instead of hearing the statements or self-doubt ("Who am I to be asking for a raise?") or questions of anxiety ("What if I bomb this job interview and don't get this promotion?"), affirmations keep our focus on the present and the positive.
3rd Week Focus: Moving Lightly
In the final week of the challenge, we'll focus on combining the deep breathing and affirmations with actions that connect us to our inner spark. You'll receive tips on several of my favorite stressbusters that I turn to before an interview or other big career event. I'll give you guidance on how to try each one out, even if you only have 5 minutes to do it.
I'll also add in a few resources for each stressbuster so you can dig into it deeper if you would like. My intention with this challenge is to help you create or get back on track with your own stress relief practice. You will then be able to benefit greatly from it when you have a big day for your career coming up or when you need to recover from a terrible one.
This gift of starting your new year off on a less-stressed-more-the-best YOU way will pay off in many ways!
You'll also see your self-confidence, energy, and the way you present yourself also get a big boost from this challenge.
And what if the more positive career moments don't happen right away? With this challenge conquered, you'll be able to handle what the universe brings to your professional live with a stronger set of stress relief muscles.
Most of all, believe in yourself. Your future will thank you.