Leadership & strategy

How do you cope when things go wrong?

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2 October 2018

As a project manager I’m used to things not always going to plan. I also think of myself as being pretty resilient. Yet, the past week has seen my patience and tolerance disappear pretty quickly!
I’ve been having a really bad week where it feels like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. It’s been little things, like losing the lid of a jar – two days later and I still can’t find the thing! And big things – like a power cut shutting the office down for an afternoon.
Being resilient is a really important skill to have. Everyone faces hard times at points in their personal and work lives. Yet how you deal with it can often make or break the situation.
I started looking at the coping mechanisms I have in place to help me through times like this week to see if there is anything I can change or add.

This is what I currently do when things go wrong:

  1. Remain positive. My wee mantra is “this too shall pass”. That phrase has helped me cope through many a trying situation! I can often be seen rocking in a corner whispering that phrase in times of extreme stress.
  2. Be prepared. This might seem obvious but having a back-up plan (or two) goes a long way towards calming me down in a crisis. Case in point, when the power went out at the office, we packed everyone off to work at home.
  3. Ask for help. The old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” is not just an old wives tale. Asking for help has got me through this week!
  4. Refuse to give up. Sometimes the only thing you can do when it all goes wrong is to dust yourself down and get up for another go.
  5. If all else fails a big bar of chocolate and a glass of wine does wonders for my morale!

Having looked at how I currently manage when things go wrong, I’ve thought about what else I could do and came up with this:

  1. Walk away sooner. This is counter to number 4, but I think I have a tendency to hang on to things that would be better to let go. It doesn’t help and actually adds to my stress. So I’m making a promise to walk away earlier in future.
  2. Move on to something else. Rather than spend time focusing on the problem, I’m going to go and do something else. This will give my mind a break and hopefully help me come up with a solution earlier.
  3. Do some exercise. I find that getting up and moving helps my mood improve and I often get inspiration at the same time. It also counteracts the effects of number 5 above!

What are your tips to help you cope when things go wrong?

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Rhona Aylward avatar
Written by Rhona Aylward
Rhona is Deputy Everything Officer at Psoda, where she does everything except code. After starting life as a microbiologist she moved into PMO leadership roles around the world before settling in New Zealand with her family.


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