by Jeff Hittner
Living a meaningful life means you’ll have emotional highs and lows. Here are three ways to deal with them.
As a founder of a budding company, I often have days when I go through every conceivable emotion. The path to discovering yourself and your purposeful career is rarely a river of relaxation, centeredness, and self-confidence. It may be the end state, but the journey itself is an emotional rollercoaster. It reminds you that you are alive and that the risks you are taking mean something to you.
To see how far we’ve traveled along our path to living a meaningful life, we only need to compare this ride to the lack of emotional highs and lows from our previous, safer life.
I live this rollercoaster, too. Because I know what is meaningful to me – my family, progress with Project X and engaging in purposeful conversations throughout the day – my day has lots of highs and lows. Sometimes the patience I need to thrive at work means a little less is left in the well for when I get home. Other times, a loving moment at home can lead to a distraction at work. At times, a work email excites me and changes my mood for hours and other times it feels like we’ve just taken two steps back. When this happens, a mix of excitement and unreal expectations flood me with many emotions at once, exaggerating the highs and lows.
The path to discovering your purposeful career is rarely a river of relaxation, centeredness, and self-confidence
Here are 3 ways I’ve been directing my energies better to manage this rollercoaster:
1. Investing in conversations.
Most of us don’t do well inside our heads when our emotions are all over the place. Talking to mentors and friends helps manage the loops on the rollercoaster. And if speaking about these emotions doesn’t calm you down, getting perspective from someone that sees a bigger picture will help.
2. Being in service to others.
Let’s be honest, it’s not the highs that need to be managed so much as the disappointments. Those often occur when we don’t feel accomplished in a given day, when things regress at work, or when we just weren’t able to complete what we intended. Nothing can cleanse your mind better in these moments than heartfelt conversations with others that are focused on their needs, not on yours.
Find a way to be in service to someone else on a daily basis. It could be a simple conversation or a small offering to someone who needs help. If you can’t make a face-to-face connection during the day, go through your list of Facebook friends and find one to email a sincere note to.
3. Questioning the timeline.
Who said you need to be married by 30, have two kids by 40, make an executive by 45, and so on? These external definitions of success are not yours. They’ve been imposed on our society generations ago and no longer make individual sense (did they ever?). Yet, these timelines can often be a recurring source of stress when we hit a low point.
The way to manage this particular obstacle is to realize that we are beating all external expectations if we are growing each day. When we learn more about ourselves during these emotional moments, we are doing the hard, purposeful work of living out our potential. And that, in our book, is worth more than any titles or empty accomplishments could ever provide.
Yes, the path to building something that means something to you is hard. Pursuing a vision means that you’re trying to create something out of nothing and this road often comes with roadblocks. So the next time your transformational journey runs like a rollercoaster, try these activities to ground you in your progress and keep you hopeful for what you’re working towards.