By Go-getter Gaithri Raj, who writes about health and wellness for GGTW.
We previously addressed the signs to help you identify symptoms of a toxic workplace, and how to work through them. If you made a decision to move on, then what should you do to begin healing and planning your next steps? And even if you haven’t left a toxic work environment but find yourself in transition, where should you start to successfully navigate the turbulent waters of change?
The feelings that arise when asking yourself, “Where should I start?” can be overwhelming, and the question “What should I do?” might be just one of hundreds of other questions swimming in your head during this time of transition. Remember that while it is impossible to know the answer to every question, you can put into place some practical check-ins to help you determine your next step(s).
The first step is to check in with yourself. Allow some time to rest and recalibrate. Take the time you need to practice self-care. Self-care alone can help you develop a sense of calm amidst all the chaos, and focus in on what’s really important to you.
Taking time for yourself may seem counterintuitive. (“I can’t be resting. I have a hundred things to get done!” I hear you.) But, you really are no good to yourself or others if you aren’t healthy mentally and physically. Think of this step like the safety overview you get right before you take off on a plane…the part when they tell you to always put your mask on first before helping someone else. You can’t help anyone if you can’t breathe.
If you’re still unsure about the importance of this step, it’s possible that you have developed negative knots in your thinking that might be stunting your thoughts about self-care. You know how your shoulder and back can carry tension and can cause referred pain in other parts of your body? Your mind can form similar incorrect opinions about what to do in stressful situations.
Work those knots out in the same way you would muscular ones. Whether your go-to for releasing tension and taking care of yourself is running, yoga, muy-tay, fishing, journaling, Netflix-ing all day, or singing along to that album of cover songs, these small acts of self-care help will restore some balance to your life. Just do whatever it is. It will not only help you feel relaxed but will also allow room for those creative and positive thoughts to start flowing again.
Check in with your network. Several of our Go-getters have shared the importance having an amazing network of people who provide unfailing support in us. (See Kait Way’s post on the importance of her support network, Precious Singo’s post called Things My Support System Taught Me, and Amanda Epp’s post about how each member of her support system inspires her.) I can’t overemphasize the critical role a positive support system plays in our sustained well-being. In fact, sometimes our supporters can remind us of successes we had forgotten about.
This happened to me during a dinner some time ago. A former manager (now a friend) casually reminded me of an instance when I had handled a delicate manner professionally, even though I thought I was not especially graceful and could have done better. “I knew it was difficult,” she said, “but you handled it like a consummate professional.” I was delighted to hear that a decade later she still held that positive impression of my work, and my doubts about the incident evaporated.
Also, it is a great idea to make plans to check in with your network at specific intervals. Whether you catch up with friends over lunch every month, or talk to your family every day after dinner, make plans to surround yourself with supportive people who not only applaud your successes, but also share your fears.
Last, while we cannot simply “Marie Kondo” all the relationships in our lives, (i.e., only maintaining the ones that bring us joy), some really are more necessary and vital to our survival as humans than others. The intent with this step is to conscientiously nurture those “joy-sparking” relationships when developing and maintaining your circle of support.
Check in with your plans. Once you’ve had a chance to practice some self-care, and gather some positive and constructive feedback from your support network, it’s time to take a fresh look at your plans for the near and distant future.
You might or might not have had a plan when you left your last workplace. Or perhaps you find that you’ve veered from the original course of what you thought you were going to do when you started in your career (like we all do!). Maybe you came to the realization that what you thought you really loved doing isn’t what you love after all.
Regardless of where you are on your path, remember that you get to develop your own plan about what to do next. Whether that step means going back to school, exploring a new career altogether, finding a new job in your current field, or deciding to launch that business you’ve been thinking about, this is the step when you establish your own goals and then plan out the list of things you need to do to accomplish them. An added bonus? Successfully performing this step also helps you establish your OWN baseline for comparison, lest you fall back into the undesirable habit of comparing yourself to others. 🙂
One last thing. These steps do not need to occur in succession! In fact, you can always practice self-care and check in with your support system, no matter where you are on your journey. Just remember to check back in regularly, especially with yourself, as you plan your next #ggtw adventure.