Ever had one of those days when you’re feeling frazzled? Here’s what you can do to change that situation.

Share story

As my career coaching client rushed in the door for our lunch meeting, her eyes darted around the coffee shop until she found me. Hurrying over, she sank into the chair across the table. “Wow, what a crazy morning,” she commented. “I don’t think anything has gone the way I’d hoped today.”

When she pulled out her notepad and pen from her bag, she bumped the table, dropping both on the floor. “See what I mean? Nothing is going right.”

In a word, my client was frazzled. Ever had one of those days?

“Let’s do something to change that,” I told her. “Are you game to try something?”

She smiled. “With the day I’ve had, I’ll try anything.”

I asked her to stand a few feet away from the table. I told her to remember what she was facing, which happened to be a tall, round table with two men seated at it. Then I explained what I wanted her to do.

She was to march in place for a count of 50. When she lifted her left leg up high (to her waist level), she was to lift her right fist to her chest. When she lifted her right leg up, she was to lift her left fist — alternating her arms with her legs.

But there was a catch. She was to march in place with her eyes tightly closed.

She cocked her head sideways and laughed.

“Don’t worry, no one’s going to think you’re crazy,” I joked. “When you get to 50, stop marching and stand still until I ask you to open your eyes.”

“OK, then. Here goes,” she said. She closed her eyes, started marching and counted each step until she got to 50. Then she stopped.

“Now, slowly open your eyes and tell me what you’re facing,” I told her.

She opened her eyes and gasped. “How did that happen?” she asked. She was facing a window that had been almost directly behind her when she started marching.

“I could have sworn I was marching in place and hadn’t moved at all,” she commented. “I can’t believe I got so turned around.”

That was exactly my point with this fun exercise. Every day we’re impacted by the little things that happen around us. If we don’t keep our eyes open and our minds calm and present, we can accidentally end up off course and feel like we’re off balance.

Whenever your day feels like it’s not going well, do something to physically and mentally change the situation. Take a quick break. Go for a walk outside in the sun or to get a cup of coffee. Whatever works for you. Then visualize what you want to accomplish and see it happening in your mind.

For my client, resetting her day to get it back on track happened when she sat quietly for a few minutes, taking deep breaths and visualizing a successful progress meeting with her project team that afternoon.

Bottom line: The choice is yours as to the kind of day you’ll have. If you feel like things are going off track, take a quick time out to get things back on course.

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.