When life gives you lemons

Published on 13th March 2018 by Katherine Smith

As vice chair of WISH Midlands, I was asked to produce a blog to introduce myself. But when I sat down to start writing, there was one problem… I’m just not that interesting!

I grappled with a few potential topics I could explore instead: issues such as the gender pay gap or the housing crisis. But, let’s face it, these have already been done to death.
In a defeated huff I began to consider my own circumstances and wondered if they actually did make good blog material: as the new year dawned, so did my new job role.

Like so many organisations in the housing sector, my company revaluated its internal focus, and in 2018 my team moved to an entirely different part of the business.

This meant a lot of changes – whether I liked it or not. A new wider team, new internal customers, new customer base, new focus, even a new desk (a change that played on my mind more than it should of)!

My responsibilities had changed too. A lot. After the first few meetings I thought ‘I can’t do this’. But I took a deep breath and reminded myself that the fact I wasn’t an instant a guru, didn’t mean I was failing.

I recently read that the biggest difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that the former are determined to make the situation work for them – rather than playing the victim searching for reasons why a situation won’t work.

I have dealt with big life challenges before. Going travelling, relocating to a different country, marriage, going on a dry January stint (we’re talking big life changes here).

This new job was just another tricky situation I had to confront. So I employed some useful tactics that have always helped me before:

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
When you have lots going on, pick and choose your battles. If you stress about everything, you’re going to have a breakdown. Focus instead on what’s most important. The rest can wait!

2. Worry less in general
If you’re spending more time worrying than working, something needs to change. Ask: will I still be worried about this next week? More often than not the answer is no! Think of the big picture and shelve those worrisome thoughts.

3. Don’t be so hard on yourself
We can all be very self-critical and (wrongly) feel that we’re not good as others. Step back and think about what you’ve achieved. Listen to the positive comments and realise how much you’ve already accomplished. It’s likely you’re doing far better than you thought.

4. Don’t feel you are on your own
Offload to family and friends. They’ve got a different perspective and this makes their advice really valuable. Bounce ideas off people who are genuinely interested in your life and want you to do well. If work is stressful, it’s likely your colleagues feel the same too. Opening up to them can make your team even stronger.

5. Enjoy it!
Above all, remain positive. New opportunities can be a blessing in disguise; a chance to develop and learn new things. Focusing on the good and not the ‘why has this happened to me’ will drive you to make a real impact and to achieve results. It’s ok to fail, as long as you learn from it and make something better next time.

I hope this blog resonates with others going through similar problems. Tackling challenges is part of life but it’s how we personally deal with it that will determine the outcome.

About the author

Katherine Smith

Co-founder and vice-chair of WISH Midlands

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