Monday Mornings with Madison

Overcoming the “Bad Day” Blues

Word Count:  1,328 

Estimated Read Time:  5 ½ min.

Everyone has had a “bad day” at one point or another.  Certainly everyone in business – and especially in sales – has had bad days… periods when nothing seems to go right.  And every business owner has most likely endured his or her share of bad times.  An important piece of equipment breaks.  A big account switches to a competitor.  The computer network goes down during a peak time.   A deal falls apart.   It happens.  In fact, bad days can even stretch out into weeks or months or longer.  2009 was a downright bad year for builders, investors, bankers, lenders and financiers.  Many could not take the stress and left the real estate and financial sectors in search of greener pastures.  Those “bad day” blues can be devastating… even killing careers.  But they needn’t be so damaging.

Those who have overcome the “bad day” blues have learned a few things.  They don’t let a bad day stop them from reaching their goals.   They know that there are bad days… and understand that those days can be tough… and even leave scars.  But they know not to be ashamed of the battle scars obtained in the world of business.  They understand that those scars mean they were stronger than whatever tried to take them down.  So how does a person develop the resilience and fortitude to deal with a “bad day?”  How do you overcome the “bad day” blues?

How to Transcend Bad Days

Here are nine strategies resilient people use to overcome “bad days.”

1. They remember that change is constant.

Just as the greatest moments pass, so do the bad ones.  If nothing good lasts forever, the consolation is that nothing bad does either.   When having a bad day, remember that this too shall pass.  And a year from that day, it will have been a year.  That bad day will likely have faded into memory.  Even a bad month or bad year will end eventually and good times will come again.

2.  They know that bad days are excellent teachers.

Some of the most important things we need to learn come from the hardships and trials of so-called bad days.  Resilient people know that such days need not shatter us.  Being tried doesn’t have to destroy us.  We can use each trial as a learning experience — something that provides an opportunity for new understandings and deeper connections. With the right attitude, trials can be transformative.

3.  They understand that to appreciate good days, there must be bad days.

To feel real joy, it is necessary to have felt heartache.  To understand a sense of victory, it is necessary to have felt defeat.   It is only by basis of comparison that we can truly measure what constitutes a bad day.  A salesperson might see a bad day as one in which he loses a big account, but probably only after he worked hard to land that account in the first place.  The quintessential good day defines the ultimate bad day.  So consider a truly bad day as a necessary experience in order to appreciate good days more fully.

4.  They don’t blow things out of proportion.

A bad day is just that… one bad day.  And it may be a bad week or month or season.  But choose not to make it more than it already is. Times of adversity will inevitably affect the conditions in which a person lives and works but it does not have to affect who the person fundamentally is and where he is headed.  Instead of thinking “why me,” consider that in every life some rain must fall.  Everyone has days when things just go wrong, and this was your turn.  It’s not a reflection of who you are and it shouldn’t cast a pall on everything else.

5.  They keep things in perspective.

No matter how bad a day is, know with certainty that there is someone somewhere in the world having an even worse day.  When things go wrong, it’s important to remember that it’s just a bad day… not a bad life.  There are people in the world having a truly bad life; a poverty-stricken, illness-riddled, tortured or war-torn life.  By comparison, a “bad day” in the 21st century industrialized world is generally not as bad.  Most people in the U.S. have enough food, clean water, clean air, clothing, electricity, access to healthcare, employment and a roof over their heads.  So a bad day here is still way better than a good day in so many other parts of the world.

6.  They learn to compartmentalize.

Compartmentalizing is sometimes seen in a negative light.  But compartmentalizing can be a positive mechanism for coping and enriching life. This includes compartmentalizing work from home so that home is not tainted by the stress of work.  Or it could mean compartmentalizing home stresses – such as trouble in a relationship or dealing with a sick relative – from work so that work is not tainted by the trials of one’s personal life.

In terms of compartmentalizing to deal with a bad day, people tell themselves, “I will give the things that made this a bad day one hour of my time. I will write down, think, or say everything that I am thinking or feeling about this day before I move forward. This means I will think about it only as much as I need to and then move on before I end up dwelling or making it worse. I can think about it again later if I need to, but I won’t let this bad day ruin the rest of my week or month.”

7.  They engage in self-care to build resilience.

People who are physically and emotionally healthy are better equipped to handle problems or crises.  They have a reserve of energy and stamina that allows them to “get up” after the proverbial fall.  The positive things in their lives are able to replenish their internal joy and build up their resilience.   A good way to build up that reserve is to get involved in fun and rewarding activities outside of work.  Take an exercise class.  Play a sport.  Go for a bike ride.  Take up a game of strategy such as Chess or Scrabble.  Take a cooking class.  Do volunteer work at a local hospital or nursing home.  Any of these things can be something rewarding to look forward to at the end of a bad day.

8.  They use positive self-talk to overcome negative thoughts.

People are able to brush off a bad day by using positive self-talk.  Using the inner voice, it helps to remind oneself of one’s qualities, talents, and gifts, and think about things that are going well. Without getting too mushy, take time to count blessings and take note of the positive things in life.  At work, it can help to review one’s bio or resume to be reminded of accomplishments and recent accolades.  Receiving a recent award.  Completion of a major project.  Landing a big client.  Finishing a degree.  Acquiring a certification.  These milestones can boost morale on bad days.

9. They surround themselves with positive peers.

To blow off a bad day, resilient people spend time with caring co-workers to get other perspectives and not feel like they are tackling problems on their own.  Caring colleagues serve as a source to vent frustrations to instead of lashing out at a boss.  Expressing concerns needn’t turn into a toxic gripe session.  It’s just a safe place to let go of grievances and be able to start fresh.

Ultimately, the main difference between good days and bad days is a person’s attitude.  It is a choice.  When a bad day has ended, it is over.  The sun sets.  The time comes to sleep; often the best way to close a bad day.  With that day behind, one can look forward to the sun rising and all of the wonderful possibilities that the next day may bring.

Quote of the Week

“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” William James


© 2017, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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