Heading up that mountain

As I came out of a meeting last week, I turned to my manager and said, “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment. I just need you to know that.”

It’s a massive project I am working on and suddenly receiving a launch date deadline to work towards started to give me serious heart palpitations. (Okay, so maybe I exaggerate a bit. I usually get like this when I don’t have control over things.)

So while I lay in bed this morning battling a nagging cough, I was planning both the work week ahead in my head but also thinking about my next running challenge. Should I carry on running my usual 10km races until the New Year or should I take on a half marathon before December? And how the hell would I manage if I was stuck in bed unable to train?

Climbing mountains

Ironically, the two issues seemed quite similar. Project managing this launch feels like a mountain right now, pretty much like forcing myself to start training during Winter. I never train during the cold months, preferring to take the easy route and run at gym. I also don’t know how I would tackle it knowing what a mental challenge it will be for me.

But running is like that. You don’t know what to expect. All you need to do is put the training in and head for the race date. Yes, I may get sick along the way (like now with my cough that won’t go away). And yes, there will be days when I hurt and can’t go on. But there will be those days when I return from a run and feel absolutely great. It’s those baby steps leading up the race that I need to look out for.

I suppose it’s the same with my project. This time around, there is no easy route. I need to put in the hard work, tackle the challenges along the way, celebrate the small wins but head for that launch date. I can do this…

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

A couple of months ago, I was frustrated when it appeared as if things at work were not going as I had planned. Fast forward to now and I find myself quite overwhelmed with all of the changes.

A new job, a new team to manage, new processes, new stakeholders, new colleagues, new projects, a new office… new everything! You must know that I am not the best when it comes to change so this implosion of my life has been incredibly stressful.Too much

I must confess that some moments of my day are spent trying to stop myself from panicking. The other time is spent trying to clear out my mailbox!

Don’t get me wrong – I am loving it. I get home exhausted. I am learning something new each and every day and it feels as if at the end of each day, my brain is fried banana.

There are three things that keep me going:

  • It’s comforting to know that the team I left behind are friends and a safe place to go visit. They take my mind off things, they ground me in a way and remind me of who I am.
  • My new team are awesome. They have made it very easy for me to openly admit that I don’t quite understand what CTR or wireframe is.
  • My bosses (a few of them) make me believe that I can do this. That taking on this challenge is a piece of cake. They have all been so supportive and encouraging. I will not let them down.

But for the moment, I need to practice my breathing. I noticed today that when I stress, I stop breathing and hold my breath in. It’s as if I will be able to stop time… just for a second while I try to catch up.

Tackling the ups and the downs

My run today pretty much mirrored the week I had last week. Lots of highs and lows, ups and downs. The difference is that when I run, I clearly have a strategy on how to deal with the up hills and down hills and I know how to listen to my body. I don’t do the same when it comes to work.

I can home 3 out of 5 evenings declaring that I had ‘just had the day outta hell’. I was exhausted. It felt as if all my energy had been drained from my body. It’s not so much work pressures but struggling to cope with office politics that’s getting the better of me. It’s mentally draining.

But then there were moments in my week when things at work were great. Moments when I felt valued, encouraged and hearing news which really lifted my spirits.

I need to approach the highs and lows as I do when I run. Tackling those up hills, my strategy is to slow down to a fast walk, to take in my surroundings and try forgetting about the burn in my legs. The hills do eventually come to an end.LSD 28 April

When I get to the flat sections and down hills, I speed up and just enjoy the wind in my hair as I let go and savor the feeling. The run become easier and I push myself.

I realize that every week will have those moments of stress and happiness. Of joy and pain, the ups and downs. Some days I need to slow down, reflect on what’s causing my stress and ‘ride the storm’. And on the good days, I need to just sit back and enjoy!

Great run today… Looking forward to a great week!

Choose your attitude

Last week, someone on Twitter posed the question: do you prefer running in the mornings or the afternoons and why?

Without hesitation, I replied saying, “Definitely afternoon. It gives me time to clear my head after a stressful day”.  I then sat back and thought about it… the question I asked myself was, “Why the stress? What’s going on?”

On the work front, things have never been better. Never before have I had such clear direction as to what my role is and what is required from me. (Thanks Sue).

The stress is coming from those around me, my colleagues and the politics at work.

The facts: I work for a large corporate. Red tape, bureaucracy, processes, and especially politics is always going to form part of the culture of my working environment.  People are busy. They have jobs to do, deliverables that have to be met, outputs with tight deadlines.

What gets to me most is that regardless of the facts, majority of people have become almost institutionalised. They’ve forgotten to greet one another; they’ve forgotten to smile, to laugh, to have fun and even to respect one another. The smallest of issues gets blown out of proportion and they don’t look for solutions, but blame.

Most days I see colleagues walking out the door to go home with heavy shoulders, tired faces and lifeless.What those negative, frustrated, moaning people at work don’t realise is that their attitudes can make or break someone else’s day. That their constant complaining, back-stabbing and negative comments do little but create an environment where it’s a challenge not to get sucked into all the politics but to rise above it and remain positive.

A colleague asked me the other day, “Bron, how do you do it. How do you manage to smile and be so positive with all this going on around you?”

My answer: Well, you just have to. Some things won’t change. Corporate world is the same no matter where you go. But it’s the way you deal with situations and those involved which makes the difference.

… and at least I am able to run off that stress when I get home.