Ever find yourself in a rut? That's a silly question, because to say no would be a lie. The more appropriate question most days would be which one? Professionally? Personally? With co-workers? Friends? A partner? Yourself? The list goes on.
I recently found myself there. Rutsville. My long awaited vacation was such a tease. Saving all my vacation time to finally get away, but so much time away can make it hard to go back. Like, really hard.
Without getting into the nuances of my job, I'd say I'm content. Pleased. The long days, the early mornings, and the constant change provide a love-hate relationship. In short, sometimes I love the excitement and the newness of everything, and sometimes, well... you get the point. Post-vacation was especially difficult. My lack of energy, excitement, and enthusiasm had me pondering all of life's big questions (and by life, I clearly mean my fresh-out-of-school, first time entering the workforce, shouldn't this all be rainbows and smiles and everything I've dreamed of... job). Caution: rut ahead.
And so it went for a few days. The questioning, the short temper, the agitation, the countdown to the weekend. And then, something totally unexpected happened. A small gesture that changed everything. In a routine meeting with my boss, she took the time to let me know that she knew things had been crazy and tumultuous lately. She took the time to tell me how much she appreciated me during this transitional time in our company. That I was valued, that my work was noticed, that I was making her job easier, and that I was an asset to my team. With that short, 45 second detour in our conversation, the stress, the doubt, and all the other negative feelings began to subside. For the first time in a few very long weeks, a deep breath helped me loosen my chest and clear all of my noise.
The lesson here? I understand we're not all this lucky. This perfect scenario doesn't always present itself at that moment when you need it most, or ever in some cases; but, it taught me that a little appreciation truly does go a long way. Genuine appreciate can be attitude shifting, mood changing, purpose driving. I hope for all of you that you have someone who provides some form of appreciation in your day to day life; but don't give up if it's not right in front of your eyes. Start with yourself! Give yourself the appreciation you deserve. You're doing just fine. You're valuable. You're making it through, one, two, or five steps at a time. You survived. Appreciate…yourself! And repeat the next day, and the next.
But more importantly, pay it forward. Alleviate someone else's noise; your partner, your friend, your co-worker, your family, by letting them know they're not unnoticed. They're appreciated. They're doing just fine.
That's the thing about a little appreciation; even if it doesn't completely turn you around, no matter where you are on the road to Rutsville, I guarantee it'll stop you dead in your tracks.