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Failure before 9 am

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As soon as I wake up, I know the day is off to a bad start.

I’ve slept through my alarm again, or more accurately, hit snooze a dozen times without ever waking up enough to know what I’m doing, and I’m going to be late. My hair is beyond help (even a ponytail won’t fix it), and last night I set my alarm thinking I’d have plenty of time to pack my lunch, so that’s not done either.

Brush my teeth in a rush, wet my hair a little in a vain attempt to tame the disaster, and try to find something in my closet that looks half-decent.

Five minutes later I half-run, half-jog to my car, fully aware of how stupid I look with the casual-sneakers-and-dress-pants combination (I keep shoes at the office). Naturally I get all the red lights on the way, which adds a few minutes to my drive. And the parking spots on my office’s street are all taken, so I have to go around the corner.

It’s not even 9 am (or, on a really bad day, it’s a few minutes after), and I’ve already failed a dozen times. There were so many things I could have done to improve my chances of success. Get an alarm clock, already. Choose clothes the night before. Pack food the night before. Buzz cut my hair (just kidding).

Once the day gets off to a bad start, it can be really hard to pull yourself back on track. The negative mindset is convincing and crippling.

But what I need to remember – and I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one – is that there’s always another day. More often than not, taking a deep breath (or five) will slow your runaway-mind-train down enough to realize that the situation is probably not as bad as you think.

Practical ways to pull yourself together:

  • Breathe. Let your mind slow down.
  • Exercise. If I can take the stairs I will, sometimes at a half-run. The physical exertion forces your brain to focus on something other than how miserable you are. I’ll do stairs semi-squatting to increase the challenge, or turn sideways and step one foot over the other.
  • Drink some water.
  • Prioritize. Write down everything stressing you out, then start tackling each item in the order it needs done. If you have the time, knock off a couple of easy tasks first to gain momentum and turn the day around.
  • Care for someone else. Buy someone a coffee. Hold the door or the elevator. Smile at the person behind the counter, or wish the person on the phone a good day. Acting as if you’re in a good mood is contagious, even to yourself!

Hopefully this helps the next time you find yourself having a bad day!


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