Crushing career blows (and alternatives to falling apart)

I once suffered a crushing career blow that nearly caused me to quit my job without notice. Nothing I did was working. Everything seemed upside down. And it felt like my role had shrunk in scope and status.

In hindsight, it was part of the normal arc of any career. There are always ups and downs.

Still, it felt awful. And while I didn’t quit, I did spend an entire weekend fuming and spinning while plotting new career paths. Then I had a radical thought: What if I did none of those things? What if I changed the game and shifted my focus away from futile plans and drama?

It would require some effort. And cleverness.

After careful deliberation, I decided to show up cheerfully for sixty days.

Yes, at work.


Being cheerful was unexpected and so weird, it took a ton of focus. Focus away from stewing and complaining. It was also unambiguous and precise. I know when I’m cheerful – and everyone knows when I’m not.

And I knew it would distract me from committing career suicide.

So for 60 days, I practiced being cheerful everywhere. With everyone.

To my surprise, however, it wasn’t an act. While trying to be cheerful, I became… cheery. More shocking, I was able to maneuver with freedom I’d never experienced. I could say things – tough things – and people listened. They even agreed. Agreed.

Cheer and work?

Why hadn’t I tried this sooner? We’re trained that work is serious business. But that doesn’t mean we have to be dour. And my experiment took a lot less effort than I expected.

Correction: it was easy. Strange, but simple.

It just took focus.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting you try my Six Steps to Being Cheerful at Work. (Ugh, just…ugh.But you could experiment. And instead of sixty days, how about six? You can probably manage six.

So what could you try for six days that’s unexpected, unambiguous and weird enough to get you to focus?

carolyn solares

I help people re-wire and focus to do hard new things.
My brother calls me a workshrink.

Work with me at murphymerton.
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