What would I do if I was feeling discouraged about work?


Today, we look at the next in our mini-series of items titled, “What would I do if…” Hopefully, you will find this a topic that helps you address the issue of discouragement. We all occasionally feel that our career isn’t going where we hoped and that we need to do something different. That feeling that our work or our time is not adding value seems to crop up a few times during our career. And, when it does, it can affect our work performance, our home life, and it can impact those around us.

So, how do you deal with those periods of discouragement? What keeps you coming in when it seems that nothing is going right and you simply cannot see light at the end of the tunnel? It really doesn’t matter how or why we get these feelings. The fact is that we need to deal with it quickly before it impacts us or others. Here are three things that I have found that helps me shake discouragement:


  1. Keep things in perspective – One of the questions I often ask, “Will this matter a year from now?” Or, “In the overall scheme of things, how are things really going?” When you look around you, you can probably see that, despite your current frustrations, you have much to be thankful for. Many aren’t so fortunate. If you have a job (even if it is frustrating), your health, and individuals that love you, you are blessed. Keeping all of this in proper perspective can shift your attitude.
  2. Take inventory of the value we are adding – It is difficult to see the difference you are making one day to the next. For that reason, it is important at some frequency to step back and see from a longer horizon the difference you are making. Over the course of a few months or year, you are making a difference. You are moving things forward. Don’t believe the lie that you make no difference!
  3. Seek an opportunity to serve someone else – I have personally found that during those times when I feel most discouraged, it is because my focus is too much on myself. When I spend too much time looking at my own situation or frustrations, it tends to drag me into the realm of discouragement, at times. So, in the times when I am most focused on my own shortfalls or frustrations, turning my attention away from myself to others is the quickest way to dig out of the discouragement pit. I am reminded of a quote by Tim Russert (former host of NBC’s Meet the Press and author of several bestselling books):

“The best exercise for the human heart is reaching down to lift someone else up.” – Tim Russert

By seeking an opportunity to serve someone else, you actually encourage your own heart. You automatically encourage yourself when you encourage someone else. This has worked for me time-after-time in my lifetime. When you focus your attention on serving someone else, you, by definition, lessen the focus on yourself… thus, on your own despair.

Don’t think that you are different or bad or wrong because you have those periods of discouragement. But, don’t stay there! Do something to shift your attention to something more positive or to serving others. And, don’t forget that when you are able to encourage others, you naturally become more encouraged yourself. Give it a try!

Have a terrific day! This just might be that “best day” you’ve been anticipating. You just never know when that day will occur.




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