How to get back on track when you must unexpectedly pivot

Isn’t this the theme song for 2020? We are all struggling with how to stay on track with our work and our lives. It has been a challenging time for all of us and these last few months have given new meaning to life being a marathon and not a sprint.

I was asked to share how you get back on track professionally when you have been derailed or thrown off course. It is a perfect time for me personally to reflect on this because my Mom recently suffered a heart attack. We were not even aware she had a heart problem. So yes, it came as quite a shock to learn that my Mom was having a heart attack when she was rushed to the hospital at 3 AM a few weeks ago.

That same day, I was scheduled to present the first of a series of three live webinars to support the launch of my inaugural digital course. While at first after hearing the news about my Mom, I thought the show must go on. It became clear very quickly that my Mom’s situation was too serious, and we had to immediately pivot and postpone the webinars so that I could jump on a plane to be at her bedside. Family is the most important thing. Never struggle with making this decision.

I have had a lot of time to reflect during these last few weeks spent in Michigan on what it means to have to make an abrupt professional plan change. The most important thing to do, I believe, when life hands us the unexpected, is to keep your perspective. While it’s hard to do, especially living in the moment of a crisis, I do believe you have to try to gain perspective as quickly as you can. Here’s what else I had to do to get through the unexpected.

Silence negative thoughts. When things don’t go as planned, both fear and worry can take over. I recommend ending any negativity running through your mind as quickly as possible. It’s too important to stay focused during difficult times, and negative thoughts distract. If I can’t quiet my mind from negative thoughts, I listen to a guided mediation on positivity or mindfulness for about ten or twelve minutes. You can find free meditations on YouTube. It helps me every time!

Once you have time to collect your thoughts and take action, don’t be afraid to talk about a setback or concern to those who love and support you. I am a very private person. It’s hard for me to talk about personal and professional things sometimes, especially if they are not positive. I have learned the hard way that ruminating is not good! If you can get it out of your head, and onto paper in your journal or speak with someone directly about what is concerning you, it helps immediately. It just does. Communication is the key to success in so many ways, and your happiness and well being depend on you being able to talk to someone about what’s bothering you. The more you speak about what’s challenging you, the easier it gets to do it. Don’t keep what is concerning you inside. Talk to someone.

Right up there with communicating a challenge or setback is asking for help. People want to help. They really do. And so many of us think, especially as women, we must figure everything out on our own. While it’s true you don’t want to complain or discuss every minor thing, never be afraid to ask for help when you are stuck and need support. Asking for help is an emotional strength. Forget about what the other person will think. Let’s face it, none of us succeed on our own. Now more than ever, with so much change happening so quickly, I ask for help much sooner than I used to, and it’s been a gift in my life.

After opening up, sharing concerns, and asking for help, you must always believe in yourself. No matter what, we all must have faith in our own capabilities. Life gets overwhelming at times; however, you must believe in yourself so that you can take action. Our inner faith creates our external results. It’s easy to lose faith in yourself when you have setbacks, failures, or fear. Just remember, we all fail. Simply put, this is how life goes. And we often learn more from our failures than from our successes. It’s important to get back up and try again, even if it takes a little time to get yourself back together.

Flexibility is one of the most important traits we all need to develop in this rapidly changing new world we find ourselves living and working in. Always remember to watch and listen and learn from those around you. Podcasts are great for this. I love hearing people share what has worked to make them more successful or manage through a difficult time. That’s why mentors are so important, especially now. People who can adapt will survive and thrive. I want to help you be one of them!

Most importantly, and now more than ever, practice self-care. The old saying is so true, we must put our own oxygen masks on first! Stress is not good and will negatively impact your health and well-being. Since working from home, I drink more water, eat healthier, take a walk in a nature park each week with a friend (yes, with masks and social distancing) and I have been reading like crazy. And yes, just like with everyone else, watching more Netflix. I also try to get more sleep and am even fantasizing about decluttering. Like I said, I have thought about decluttering! Whatever works for you, as Nike says, just do it! And call me or send me a message if I can help. I would love to hear from you.

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About Mary Williams

Mary is a business etiquette and protocol expert for executives and rising stars who want to unleash their best self and achieve their goals. A veteran of the C-Suite, Mary is a passionate advocate for utilizing the best skills in business etiquette and protocol to ensure meaningful actions for success in business and life. After more than a dozen years in her role as chief of staff, Mary launched her own dream business, Mary Williams, Your First Impression Authority. As a graduate of The American School of Protocol and a certified Business Coach, in addition to working at the highest levels of national and international organizations, Mary understands both the demands and the complexities of maneuvering effectively through business and life.   She is a regular presenter at university business schools, nonprofit organizations, trade association conferences, as well as corporate events. Her mission is to share all she has learned along the way, and in doing so provide effective business coaching to ultimately help people reach their true potential, utilizing distinct techniques and simple steps that guarantee success.

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