What Do You Do When the Going Gets Tough?
By Carol Hurst, VetSupport Specialist
I’ve felt compelled to write something as I’ve felt the pressing weight of different professional stressors from time to time. Even the most passion-worthy causes are going to have them. Perhaps especially the passion-worthy ones as they seem to have a higher perceived personal investment.
The question pops up – what do you do when you are feeling professional fatigue? Not so much burnout but feeling the strain nonetheless. I’m very much of the mindset that at almost all times we have more control over our situations than we often think we do. Feelings of powerlessness are often a ruse and are a source of stress until we start putting one foot in front of the other, moving in the direction that we choose. Below are the three areas that I like to focus on that can help with the forward momentum.
Go Back to Your Why
We have the privilege of being able to roll out of bed every morning and work in this amazing and fun industry. Regardless of your role – whether you have boots on the ground and you interact with patients and clients on the daily or work behind the scenes, supporting those that have boots on the ground – our job is amazing. Why did you get into this profession? Why do you stay? I can tell you my why: I love being able to ignite that spark in others. Being able to facilitate someone else growing in their own role is a humbling and honorable experience. When things feel heavy, I go back to that. I aim to make a difference. With every interaction, I want that other person to leave feeling uplifted. Your work makes a difference to people and to pets. Truly feeling the gratitude of the opportunity we have can help put things into perspective.
Focus on What You Can Control
Regardless of the situation, there are always things that you can control. Brandon Hess, my teammate teaches the equation:
You rarely have control over the event, but you do have control over your response to that event. Are you one who retreats inward, pushing people away? Or do you reach out, check on others, and shift your focus to what is within your sphere of influence? I have complete control over the things and people that receive my energy. Your emotions about any “events” that happen are valid, this isn’t about pushing them under the rug but your ultimate response in your work quality, the interactions you have with people, how you spend your time, all of that can dictate the ultimate outcome.
Give Back / Help Others
This one may not seem immediately obvious. I’ve always found deep value in helping others. It can create feelings of validation and help put your own situation into perspective. This pales in comparison to the actual act of making someone else’s load lighter in some way. I won’t put restrictions around what this looks like because I think different people can derive this from different sources. Maybe this means being more intentional with your family and friends. Maybe it means reconnecting with an organization you’ve lost touch with. For me, I both enjoy affecting my immediate professional circle and those that I don’t know through online social platforms.
For me, this step is about lens-shifting and giving my brain something positive to consume.
These strategies don’t take the place of tough conversations or tough choices. This isn’t putting your head in the sand. As in most situations, getting your mindset “right” often can help with direction, stability, and purpose. I find clarity in perspective, gratitude, and kindness.
Carol Hurst, LVT, CVPM, CVJ, CCFP
Associated Resource: Start With Why by Simon Sinek