Dear Debbie: I Feel Unsettled. How Do I Cope with the Chaos Around Me?
Q: My company is in disarray, and I’m feeling unsettled. How do I cancel the noise around me and carry on?
A: Peace amid the storm is something many of us crave. Let me start by saying: The storms will never fully cease. The nature of being alive on planet Earth is that you will experience your fair share of chaos. This is inevitable, which makes coping vital during times of chaos and noise.
Which leads to the reader’s question: How?
To start, accept that what you are experiencing is not your fault but is to be expected. None of us is immune to volatility in the world. We face chaos without and, sometimes, chaos within. We grapple with businesses, relationships, family, mental health challenges and more. Chaos can cause untold stress, and that can have catastrophic effects. Just last week, I was at a real estate meeting, and one of the agents shared an intense personal struggle they were having with depression. You may relate, and you may feel alone. I can’t say emphatically enough: You deserve awareness and attention, you have power and you are capable of navigating whatever you’re facing. Tune in. Stay close to yourself.
How to cope with chaos at work
Whatever the source of the chaos, it can affect your life. Here are some actionable practices to cancel noise, find focus and carry on.
First, gain absolute clarity about your job.
Why are you there? So many people just do the job but don’t have vision. I can tell you that when times get tough or uncertain, you will need to understand your purpose. Reflect on this. Write it down. Get clear about your work and your role: It will sustain you and help you prioritize what you must do each day.
Second, control what you can to cope with the chaos.
Chaos can often highlight just how little we control. Your company? Many, many stakeholders impact the direction of a company. Your team? There are always voices wanting to be heard. The economy? Nope, you can’t control that.What you can control may be a short list, but write it out: What can you reasonably control each day? This is a perspective exercise that helps you cope when a co-worker has a bad attitude, your boss blows up or you read something upsetting in the news. You can’t carry the weight of the world. Focus on where you can be effective.
Third, dream more.
Some people see chaos as a time to exercise control (and acutely need the above practice). They see the world whirling, and their instinct is to dig in and do more. But I have a slightly different stance.
Dreaming, visioning, journaling, imagining: This is how to tap into your deepest desires and architect a future that is uniquely yours. It’s when you clear the cobwebs and build a version of life you can work toward—something aspirational. Something that transcends the chaos of a current moment and helps you see the bigger picture.
These three practices are interconnected. They connect you to the grand work of solidifying your identity, advancing your career and even shaping your destiny.
Knowing who you are and what you are doing, knowing what you can and can’t control and knowing where you are headed make you unstoppable. Invincible. It puts you in a mindset that quiets the noise without and stills the chaos within. It enables you to shake off uncertainty and build fortitude.
Let me encourage you: You are going places. Where you are right now is one leg of a lifelong journey. Don’t lose focus because things are chaotic, challenging or not what you want them to be. Cling to clarity, control what you can and let your vision drive you forward into more certain, more fulfilling tomorrows.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo courtesy of Debbie Biery.
With more than 20 years of experience in the real estate industry and a certified life coach, Debbie Biery is a firm believer in the power of communication, authenticity and self-awareness. She combines that experience with a desire to serve others and empower them to be the best version of themselves by helping them embrace failure and choose each moment as an opportunity for change and growth.
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