Holding onto resentment will only hurt you. But if you feel that way, what can you do?
Q: For many of my co-workers, the end of the year is pretty slow and many of them have scaled back and are taking a lot of time off. However, I have a lot of deadlines and work piled up, and find I’m feeling really resentful of them. What can I do? — Jane, 44, analyst
A: Holding onto resentment will only hurt you. But if you feel that way, what can you do?
Part of the change is inward. When you find yourself feeling angry or upset, take a minute to experience those feelings (it doesn’t help to bury them), then take some deep breaths and let go of them.
If you find yourself getting preoccupied with your feelings, take stock. You may think your situation is unfair, feel unsupported by your team, etc. Then consider whether it feels intentional.
If you’re reading it as intentional, you’re at risk of falling into victim mentality. This will hurt you by getting you caught in emotional drama. Then you’ll become less able to see possible solutions and will also lose the emotional resilience needed to make the best of a tough situation.
Then look objectively at the situation. If you’ve been in this role for a while, consider whether this has been a pattern over multiple years.
If it’s a one-time crunch, that’s not great, but perhaps you can just make plans to have a slow time later (more on that in a moment). If, however, it occurs year after year, it’s concerning that your leadership has not addressed it in the past.
Also look at your own time management. You mention work being piled up. Are you staying on track with your day-to-day duties? If not, what’s the root cause? Be honest if you tend to procrastinate or do not ask for direction as quickly as needed.
So, what can you do to alleviate the situation? This is a good time to use your planning and communication skills. Make a list of the key items on your plate. Then look at whether they can be deferred or delegated. Take it one step further to outline options, risks and mitigation.
Take this list to your manager for discussion. Since managers love when team members bring them solutions (not just problems), this is likely to be well received. Ask co-workers for help. If they don’t know you’re swamped, they won’t pitch in.
If the work volume can’t be cut, think about a deferred resolution. For example, maybe it’d make sense to get some easing in your workload in January or February that would allow you to get recharged.
Once you’re done for the day, even a long one, leave your work behind.
Find ways to enjoy the season, seeing people you care about, eating good food and doing favorite holiday things.
Maintaining a certain amount of work-life balance, even around the margins of available time, will help keep resentment at bay.