I used to think that my mood made no material difference to my ability to successfully perform tasks, particularly tasks that I’m used to. But over time that’s proving not to be the case. My mood matters. A lot.
I work in a fairly stressful job. There are multiple deadlines during each day and they all have to be met. So I don’t have a lot of time to slow down and think about how I’m approaching my day. I simply have to get on with it.
The trouble with that is not the stress itself. It’s the lack of space to deal with my mood. If I arrive at work frustrated and stressed out for some reason completely unrelated to work, that frame of mind stays with me and affects how I experience my work day.
What has woken me up to this reality is dissatisfaction in my work. On some days, I really don’t like my job. And that’s been slightly mystifying because on other days I relish my work. Looking at those days on which I’d rather be somewhere else, I can see that I’ve taken stress and frustration to work with me, rather than the work itself being the problem.
Of course, there’s a positive side to this too – if I arrive at work calm, collected and focused on being productive, I generally have a fantastic day.
This is something that’s taken me a bit by surprise. And looking at it now, it seems a little ridiculous that it’s taken me 30 years to work out that I need to prepare myself mentally for any task in order to perform it well. But that’s just how it is.
Of course, this new realisation is also a call to action. I need to spend my morning in such a way that I arrive at work in a positive frame of mind. That means I need to have enough time for my morning routine, so that I don’t have to rush.
It also means that I must wake up refreshed, which requires that my sleep be of sufficient length and quality. And for that to happen, I need to go to bed early and, perhaps more importantly, without being stressed out.
This post is now going in a direction that has been covered before – I need to take care of myself. And that’s not what I was thinking when I started to write today. But it’s the inevitable conclusion. If I want to live a positive and productive life, I must first be good to myself.
This new appreciation of the importance of mood also highlights something I chatted about with a good friend over a glass of wine yesterday evening: It’s crucial to face personal issues, even if it’s uncomfortable. That’s how we learn and grow.
If I constantly push my own issues aside, they don’t go away. Instead, they stress me out and wreck my mood. If I deal with my problems, they go away. And the lightness that results from solving my own personal problems is truly wonderful. It’s surprisingly easy to forget that.
So I suppose the conclusion I’m drawing from this meandering post is this: I need to care about myself enough to face the issues that are holding me back. I’ll be trying to keep that in mind as I go through today; then tomorrow; and hopefully every day after that.