My boss was retiring. Everyone was sad to see him go. He was a great boss.

This was the man that hired me 3 years ago. It was the man that trusted me to take on a project after only 8 months on the job. It was the man that everyone respected and trusted because he always had our backs.

He didn’t mingle in our work. He didn’t nitpick and ask us why we didn’t do all of these tiny, minute details. He trusted our work.

My new boss took over. She’s nice, but she’s new and learning. She’s also very concerned that everything was done right, even the tiniest of details. This caused some hard times for me.

This year I took on a new project. This project would force me out of my comfort zone. I would be responsible for more than ever before. I would have to lead others. I would have to educate our new employees.

It was a tough project and it didn’t go smoothly by any means. It seemed like something went wrong every day. I didn’t get the data I needed. I didn’t get the feedback I wanted from the new boss. I didn’t get the help I needed from my team members.

Much of the blame for this falls on myself, I acknowledge that.

Reaching my boiling point

There was something else that drove me crazy. After completing this project, I was sent out of town to work on a completely different project in a city across the state.

While my project was being reviewed, and while I was in a different city, I was getting bombarded with questions and “suggestions” for things that I could do better. Or, even worse, things that I had to completely redo.

This drove me crazy. I was going back and redoing things that I thought were done. I was doing things multiple times, and wasted my time.

I was irate. I was overwhelmed. I was doing the best I could, and all I felt like I was being criticized the entire time.

I didn’t deal with this well at first. I felt anger. I had outbursts. Stress levels were through the roof.

I need to do better

In this moment I realized that I still have a lot of room for improvement. Getting so angry and stressed was not something I was normally doing, so this was a wake up call.

It made me think about what I could fix. For one, I could become less reactive. I shouldn’t let these outbursts take over my emotions.

It made me realize that I should take inventory of the emotions I’m having and try to understand them. In order to do this, I challenge myself to write down what I’m feeling in the moment, and then explore the root of what is causing this emotion.

The way I do this is by writing down the emotion, then asking “why?” then exploring the root cause while asking “why?” at least 3 or 4 times.

The internal dialogue goes something like this

“I’m feeling really angry right now. Why?”

“Because I’m stressed from work and all of the things I have to go back and do.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t feel like I should do them again.”

“Why?”

“Because I felt like what I did was good enough.”

I keep going until I get to the root cause. Afterwards I evaluate my reaction. I looked at what I did, look at what my boss suggested, and then I asked myself, “Okay, what can I fix personally and what can I learn from this situation?”

Lesson Learned

This experience has taught me to deal with uncertainty more. Having a new boss was an adjustment. I haven’t really experienced these types of challenges the way I have in 2016.

I learned to deal with more uncertainly (not knowing what to expect from a new boss), learned to deal with discomfort (dealing with others who rant to me or dealing with disagreements with others).

As a result, in 2016 I stepped out of my comfort zone and grew as a person. This year I took on more leadership roles.

I learned what it means to lead, did a very poor job (but I’m improving) this year. I also learned how to better harness my presentation skills and how to deal with presenting in front of groups of individuals with vastly more experience than myself.

As for my goals from 2016 and for 2017…

One of my goals was to continue learning every single day. One way that I effectively have done this is by challenging myself to learn at least one new thing each and every day. This is a small commitment that I was able to stick to and will be able to continue to stick to it no matter what.

The way that I’m able to apply this idea is by asking myself mindful questions. When I read an article or book I ask myself “how can I apply this to my life?,” then I extract the ideas or concepts that are most relevant to my life.

“Without knowledge action is useless, and knowledge without action is futile.”

One other thing I attempt to do is make the information actionable. I want to make the information applicable to my life as soon as possible.

For example, say I read a book and learn a lot of information that is relevant to my life. I’ll ask myself “What can I do to act on this information today? What can I do to act on that information this week? What can I do to act on this information this month?”

I find these questions force me to come up with action items I can use in my life. There are times where I find myself learning a new concept that’s irrelevant because I’m not thinking in terms of how I’m actually going to apply it to my life.

Helping others improve a little bit every day

Another goal for 2016 ways to help others improve. I feel I’ve done a good job of doing that in the current year. I’ve helped train 4 new employees while also helping my superiors as well.

I also believe Freethinkr has been a good platform for me to help others improve. I like to share my experiences and lessons I’ve learned in hopes that someone can derive some sort of value from when I write.

I believe this unselfish goal helps me focus outside of my own happiness. I know if I’m able to help others improve it will help me feel more accomplished and give life more meaning.

My final goal was to generate more income from eCommerce. This is actually been going pretty well this year, but there’s a lot more room for improvement. Sales have been high considering this is my first year but margins have been extremely low.

My goals for 2017 are more of the same:

  1. Learn one new thing every day
  2. Go out of my way to help others
  3. Continue to grow my side income
  4. Be more aware of my emotions and manage them more effectively

How about you? What is one lesson you learned from 2016? 

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17 thoughts on “This past year opened my eyes

  1. Kind of an universal work related problem. Kudos to you for realizing you need to learn to be less reactive and more responsive. And getting out of your comfort zone. You never grow unless you’re challenged

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    1. It’s all kind of intertwined, isn’t it? We challenge ourselves and step out of the comfort zone, which can cause stress, which is where it helps to be less reactive.

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A lot of people don’t like change. It can be difficult, and it forces us out of our comfort zone. I have learned to embrace change and kind of go with the flow. My goal is to have more peace in my life, and like you, less reaction is better for me. Most importantly, I have to be aware and stay positive when I am confronted with the change, Have a great day! ~dp

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed! I used to think that I could plan everything out and control it. Then I realized most plans are useless because there always seems to be something that wasn’t accounted for.

      Thanks for the comment Etta 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There is another side of the story – the new boss’. I had a similar experience many years ago. I remember telling the out-going store manager that the new manager-to-be didn’t know the difference between boss and bossy. He laughed and simply said, “Oh well. He’ll learn”. And he did. He got over his own insecurity in his new responsibility. After a while, he figured out that the rest of us still knew how to do our jobs even if he was still learning his.
    Have patience, while you learn the ways of a new boss and increase you own skills. This too shall pass.
    MyraSaidIt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You hit the nail on the head Myra! I’ve been doing my best to be patient and get a feel for what the new boss wants. Sometimes we’re resistant to change, but the change is what we need in order to continue to grow and develop.

      Thanks for the comment Myra!

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  4. Its great you rose up to the challenge . Another way to look at “continual stress” in any situation (work, hobbies etc) is that the universe is re directing you!? Maybe its time to move on/…. Trying to “please a boss” makes us leave who we really are.

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    1. I agree. I think this stress is meant to either strengthen us or make us redirect and continue on to a different path. Either way, focusing on what is good about that stress makes it much more bearable.

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