About two years ago, I packed up my life as I knew it and set out to complete a full-time MBA degree in the UK.
What followed was a year and a half during which I lived my life in overdrive. And loved every minute! My time as an MBA student was characterised by constant demands, which required the presence of my entire being. Inside and outside the classroom I had duties to fulfil, from serving as the course rep to leading the winning team in an international consulting competition.
I made friends from around the world. We were always up to something, whether working on a deadline or planning the next social gathering. We pulled all-nighters together, celebrated birthdays together and even managed to take a road trip or two! Honestly, they became more my family than my friends. It was amazing.
Trapped in a space of negativity
Fast forward to March 2020.
I arrived home on a high after graduating from an intensive one-year full-time MBA and working for six months in the UK. Enter Covid-19 and with it, isolation, disconnection, fear, and paranoia.
Transitioning from a productive space, where I felt like I mattered, to one where I was job searching in a flat economy and felt isolated was one of the most difficult times I’ve faced.
There came a time when I barely recognised myself. The bubbly, confident optimist I’m proud of being rarely appeared. Instead, I found myself in daily uphill battles and even though I didn’t enjoy that version of myself, I felt stuck. For a long time I just couldn’t shift my mindset to a more positive outlook – and the isolation was not helping.
Thankfully, I managed to get myself out of the funk and have been reaping the benefits ever since. Without sounding all wishy-washy, it really is true that positivity attracts positivity.
3 Steps To Breaking Free Of Negativity
So how did I do it?
These are my top 3 tips for muddling your way through a tricky transformation that may have you feeling like you don’t recognise yourself.
Set Yourself Free
Accept that some days you may not be okay, and that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it or try to force yourself out of it.
Set yourself free from the preconceived notions that we need to function as superstars every day and allow yourself to be – whatever you need to be for that day.
I shifted to being productive on three – maybe four – days a week and embraced it. I relieved the pressure of needing to go at full pace each day, and liberated myself. I found this worked really well, and the days I did work on whatever I was up to were far more productive.
On my off days, I allowed myself to Netflix and chill as much as I needed to without feeling guilty about it!
Figure out what brings your Calm Amidst Chaos, and Practise it
We all need to blow off steam from time to time, especially during a period of moving from the known into the unknown. The uncertainty of that transition alone can result in a whole of feelings we may not know how to deal with. This is why it’s really important that you understand what brings your calm amidst your chaos.
Sometimes we know what this is but we ignore it because it seems unimportant during times of significant change when so many other things require our attention. Other times, we may not know what this is for us yet and need to spend some time reflecting on it.
Either way, my experience has taught me that spending time to discover your calm amidst your chaos is a worthwhile investment.
For me, writing about my experiences and emotions brings me clarity and helps me order my thoughts. This was probably the most important step in moving to a more positive mindset. Writing was my outlet, and helped me make sense of what I was feeling.
For you it could be painting, drawing, running or walking on the beach. It really doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as your figure out how you best blow off steam and commit time to it.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Remember, you are going through this transition because you are trying to get out the other side. There is method in your madness… there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep your eye on the prize!
When you feel like you want to give up, remind yourself why you started.
I find that a visual reminder works really well for me. This could be a noticeboard stuck up somewhere where I’ll see it every day, reminding me of my goals. It could be a vision board of sorts with a picture representation of what I’m working towards. Heck, it could be seeing the pair of pants I plan to fit back into!
In whichever format you prefer, I encourage a reminder of your end goal. Working through transitions can make us want to pull our hair out, but remember you are more than the tasks you need to carry out on a daily basis. Take a moment to reflect on what brings you joy.
Be bold, and step into the best version of yourself.