It’s really hard to be “on” all the time.
We’re not machines, there’s no power switch, and we have very human reactions to all different kinds of stimuli. Too little sleep, or too much alcohol the night before, makes us sluggish. Realizing too late that our half and half is expired (as we watch it curdle in our freshly brewed coffee) puts us in a foul mood. Dealing with toddler tantrums or teenage eye-rolls sets our nerves on edge.
By the time we make it to work, we are not happy. It’s going to be a struggle to make pleasant conversation with colleagues, to muster the energy for prospecting, and to be patient with our buyer clients as we show them home after home after home.
Unless, of course, we take the right steps to turn our bad day into a good one.
In this blog post, learn 6 proven strategies for resetting your outlook, recalibrating your expectations, and turning a crappy day into a great day.
1) Don't indulge yourself
Instead of sitting around and thinking about why you're having a bad day—Why am I off today? Did I sleep the wrong way? Did I drink too much?—just get to work.
Just get to work. That's the advice bestselling author Daniel Pink shared in an episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show podcast. He also reminded us of this quote by the all-time great basketball player Julius Erving ("Dr. J"):
"Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don't feel like doing them."
- Julius Erving, former professional basketball player
Start with just one task—one concrete action you can take to knock something off your To Do list. Sometimes, that's all it takes to create enough momentum to get you back on track. Other times, you never really get back into your routine, and the day isn't all that great—but at least you accomplished one thing.
2) Identify what messed up your day
If you need to indulge just a little, try to figure out what's to blame for your crummy mood or unproductive morning. When you identify the culprit, it can make the situation feel less catastrophic, and you can come up with a solution. If you realize that your ruined cup of coffee put you in a foul mood, make a quick trip to Starbucks. Or maybe your listing appointment was rescheduled at the last minute and it messed up the rhythm of your day—in that case, take a few minutes to tweak your calendar and figure out a new use for that block of time.
Identifying the cause of your bad day will also help you prevent those situations from happening in the future.
3) Change locations
If you've been staring at your computer for 30 minutes with nothing to show for it, get out of there. Pull on your sneakers and go for a walk outside. Pack up your laptop and head to a coffee shop to work.
"A change of scenery often helps signal to your brain that the current mood doesn’t need to be sustained," writes Harvard Business Review contributor Amy Gallo.
4) List 3 good things
When you're feeling gloomy and unmotivated, try expressing a little gratitude. Identify 3 good things going on right now in your life, and see how that makes you feel. "There are neuroimaging studies that show it's almost impossible to be in a depressed state and grateful at the same time," says Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage.
The science behind gratitude has to do with two particular neurotransmitters:
"When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside."
- Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury (certified psychiatric counselor) on the neuroscience of gratitude
5) Take a power nap
A quick 20-30-minute nap might be just what you need to restart your day. Daniel Pink suggests setting a timer on your phone for 25 minutes and then laying down. If it takes you 5 to 10 minutes to fall asleep, you'll get a 15 or 20 minute nap—the perfect length of time to recharge.
You might even try Pink's "Nappuccino" method—down a cup of coffee right before you lay down. The caffeine will start to kick in 25 minutes later, just as you're waking up from your nap.
6) Rewrite your To Do list
Sometimes you just need to reset your expectations for the day. If it's noon and you've only accomplished 1 of the 5 tasks you had scheduled for the morning, rewrite your day's schedule.
Start by listing several things you actually did accomplish that morning: "woke up, brushed teeth, ate breakfast, updated listing notes for the Smith's property."
Then, figure out what you can realistically accomplish throughout the rest of the day, and rewrite your To Do list for the afternoon.
This will get your headspace back on track, so you can have a productive afternoon and a better day tomorrow.
Remember, it's just one day
Bad days happen to everyone. They happen to the world's most successful top-producing real estate agents. They happen to interns and world leaders and everyone in between.
Don't let that one bad day define you. Follow the tips above to salvage as much of your day as possible, and keep moving forward. Even if today sucks, you get a fresh start tomorrow.
And I bet you'll make tomorrow great.