We all go through seasons in our lives when we are, for lack of a better term, a “hot mess.” Maybe you feel like everything that should be working harmoniously is out of balance. Or possibly you feel like your life is spinning out of control and you are about to topple over anything or anyone in the way.
Perhaps these moments seem like they happen more often to you than to others. What gives? As far as you know, you are doing everything right, yet the outcomes run counter to the direction you need them to. Failure after failure come your way and your life looks far different than the goals you set to achieve. In these moments, disheartenment, despondency and downheartedness replace any joyfulness, jubilation and jollification you once had. Where do you go from here? When you get to this place, you simply don’t know where to start; your judgment is cloudy and your decision-making ability is impaired.
In times like this, you might be ready to give up. But before you throw in the towel, understand the “hot-mess” season you find yourself in could serve you in the future as a valuable part of your story. Turn your mess into your message. Here are eight actions you can take to help turn things around.
1. Revisit your why.
We often start out from a good place, with a clear vision and a deep understanding of our why. Then all of a sudden, life happens and we get lost among the hustle and bustle of trying to just get by. Before we know it, we fall into a state of misalignment, mayhem and muddlement. When this happens, it helps to go back and revisit the why behind all that we do. All leaders can benefit from routinely reminding themselves of their why.
2. Take a step back.
Pause and assess all you are doing. It could be that you are doing too much and overwhelm has set in. We are not our best selves when there is chaos in our lives. When you find that you are doing more than you should, put everything out on the table, highlight the ones that appear to be causing your above-normal stress level, and make a decision to cut back or simply take a clean break. Sometimes the things that have the least amount of value create the greatest headache.
3. Set boundaries.
If you are a people pleaser, this may be very hard for you to do in the beginning. Let me caution that you will find yourself feeling a bit of friction with wanting to do what is right for you versus what will make others happy. Write down how you want to feel and match that against your value system. Once you’ve done this, establish rules for how you expect to be treated.
Another simple but helpful thing you can do is to separate your personal mobile number from your business number. Particularly if you lead a small establishment, it is easy to have those lines crossed, making it more difficult to detach when you need to.
4. Learn to let go.
Toxicity comes in many forms; things, people and even our very own emotions. As you take a step back to assess your life, identify anything and anyone who is causing you to be off-balance and toss it. Let go of anything or anyone who is no longer serving your reason for existence.
The enemy within—aka our own negative thoughts and self-talk—is sometimes the hardest to let go. Remember this African proverb, “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do you no harm.”
5. Unplug from gadgets and invest in real relationships.
Thanks to technology, we live in a world that is more connected than it has ever been, yet relationally, we are more disconnected than ever before. The one constant is we still have only 24 hours in each day. The more time we spend on screens, the less time we have to connect and strengthen real relationships. Make a conscious decision to spend time with your families and friends instead of constantly browsing social media or binging on your favorite streamed series during your spare time.
6. Ask for help.
As a leader, asking for help may come with a lot of trepidation and anxious moments. Practice asking those you trust to assist you. You are a leader, not a superhuman with a cape. “I can do it all,” is not a superpower and is not worth your life spiraling out of control.
Don’t underestimate the role of adequate rest and self-care and the impact each has on your success. Instead of being rested, the truth is, we are often in a place of restiveness. A wound-up body and mind are really difficult to unwind (trust me, I know). It takes intentional effort to do this but it must be done. Your sanity and mental health depend on it.
8. Do something special for others.
It’s always good to do something special for those less privileged. Giving does wonders for the soul. When you are feeling down and out, find a homeless shelter, a children’s home or wherever else is in need and lend a helping hand.
Certainly, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are so many other things I could have gone into—for example, journaling, taking long walks, praying, meditation and avoiding bright shiny objects that merely distract you from your purpose.
As you reflect during this time, think about your impact for 2020 and the type of message you are sending out to the world. The end of the year is a great time to make changes to your life for a brand new you.