5 Ways to Keep Your Sanity

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in April 2009. Some conversations with colleagues recently have prompted me to republish it

As I've been traveling for the Blogging Bootcamps, I've noticed a trend among the wedding professionals in each city.  Perhaps trend is the wrong word - it's more of a vibe or an attitude. Everyone seems really tired. Not physically tired, though some are that too, but emotionally tired.  I'd totally be lying if I didn't include myself in this camp as well.  Even on Twitter, people seem to be passing a cynicism-flavored kool-aid around.

It's easy, especially when the future seems so uncertain given the current economy, to become jaded, to let annoyances pile up, to react to the short-term instead of think through things strategically with the long-term in mind.  It can also be difficult to focus on your work when the reactionary decisions of your competitors, such as slashing prices (not a good idea, by the way) affect the conversations your clients have with you.

The downturn in the economy is real, and anyone who says it is just in your head is not very good at math.  The bright side is that it is not the end of the world.  History repeats itself and there is a light at the end of this uncertain tunnel.  If you can keep your mind and your energy renewed during this time, you will be able to fight burning out and getting a bit jaded with the industry.  You'll also be able to more clearly see the opportunities that are in front of you right now (and there are plenty of opportunities, recession or not).

Here are some tips on how to do that:

1. A Gratitude Journal
I've talked about these before, and I believe in them so much.  Take time each day to jott down three things you are grateful for.  You can do this with regular pen and paper or with the gratitude app on the iphone.  Yes, we all like to have our mini pity parties and no one is grateful 100% of time, but you can't keep that up 24/7.  Spending a few minutes each day focusing on what you do have (and it doesn't need to be material) instead of what you don't have will help shape your outlook.

2. Watching What You Write
While you may take note of a few things you're thankful for, it sort of negates the entire process if you then turn around and use Twitter or your Facebook status update to vent about every little annoyance. 

3. Unsubscribe from the Dramacolypse
While you should have people in your life who are willing to be REAL and not happy-go-lucky 24/7, you should also be careful not to surround yourself with people who are cynical dream-stoppers.  Sometimes this doesn't even mean people you meet in person, but can also include the blogs you read and the people you follow on Twitter. If someone gets under your skin or lives in your head "rent-free", unsubscribe or unfollow them.  Real drama is your friend who is going through chemo.  Unnecessary drama is the inane stuff people make up on Twitter because they are intimidated by other people's success.

4. Declutter and Streamline
The scientific law, Occam's razor, suggests that the simplest solution is usually the best one.  Getting simple, however, is not easy.  It requires being willing to let things go and to checking your ego at the door so that you can make things work for you without worrying about what everyone else is doing.  Take some time to evaluate what things or processes you can cut or simplify in your life or workflow.  This isn't a license to be selfish, but it is a way to evaluate what you need to do to simplify your life and your business.  What areas can you get simpler in?

5. Breathe
Create margin for your life. The easiest way to do this is to create some boundaries in how you work and when you are available to people. There will be some days that you have to work late and reply to emails at 2:00 am, but if this is a daily occurrence, it's time to slow down.  Slowing down can be difficult because it often means giving up the facade of power. It is also easy to justify our propensity toward a frenetic pace by using the excuse that we love our work. You should love your work. You should also love yourself and your family enough to keep your mental, emotional and physical health in check. Slow down. Go to sleep. Get some exercise. Take a sabbath day or afternoon to renew your mind and spirit (it doesn't have to be Saturday or Sunday). As the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

What tips do you have for staying sane when the going gets tough?

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