As someone in a management role at a large, multi-national, software engineering firm, I've come across many diverse individuals for whom it's my goal to make work approachable, flexible, and supportive. Today, I wanted to share something that was affecting one of my team members earlier this year and often affects me.
My team member said they were having a down day. This is definitely something a lot of us hear from others and feel
ourselves, especially with the limited social interactions that we've had since the onset of COVID-19. This "low" may have been just how they were feeling for some unknown reason, how productive they were that day, or anything really where they felt they didn't meet their own expectations for what success or happiness felt like.
However, you need to remember that having an off day is really just that - one day. Sometimes, you feel like you’ll
never recover or that you’ve made a mistake that’s going to haunt you forever. Fortunately, though, our mistakes are not unique. Someone else likely made that exact mistake before we did, and they were able to move on. Maybe the anguish lasts a few days or weeks, but you can generally find a modicum of happiness somewhere in there.
For me, if I can’t find that happiness, I try to or at least find a vision of what happiness looks like to me. This has a two-fold effect. One is that it gets my mind off of whatever is making me feel not quite like myself that day. The second is that it helps me re-frame my state of mind to think through how I can achieve that state of happiness that I envisioned. This plan isn't always eating healthier, working out more, or studying harder. We don't always need to strive to achieve and fall into some sort of glorified hustle culture.
Sometimes it's just deciding I need time off from work or social interaction to stay home and read or play video games. Maybe it's to catch up on TV or post memes about how mad I am at Game of Thrones.
The way I try to look at it is somewhat like the stock market. It has a long history of highs and lows, but in
general, its more recent lows are higher than its past lows. This isn't always the case, but as long as we aim to grow over time, hopefully, we can achieve the same level of higher lows. There are going to be days when we bottom out. There are going to be days when those around you bottom out. No one really has it together - not all the money, fame, or success can help that. All we can do is aim to be better - whatever we ourselves define better as.
The most important thing to me as a manager, a friend, and someone random on the internet is your ability to succeed in the long term. Today doesn't define you. It's everything you've done until today and what you will do tomorrow that I look for. I hope you can do the same for yourself.