Are You Experiencing Career Colic? 4 Tips For Overcoming A Professional Downswing

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Possibly the only time she didn't cry
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When I was 9 months pregnant I would fantasize about life as a new mom. I would sit in the empty nursery and take it all in. I would rock in the glider, smell the baby lotion, and feel the soft texture of the baby blankets. I’d look at the closet full of baby clothes. I’d flip through “Good Night Moon” and imagine reading it by the frog lamp that complimented the nursery theme. After 12 hours of labor, that dream came to a screeching halt. I gave birth to the most beautiful colicky baby in the history of the world. People laugh, but I’m serious when I say I’ve blocked out most of the first three months of her life. If you’ve had a colicky baby, you understand. They don’t cry, they scream. They scream all the time. She would scream and I would cry. That beautiful nursery was never used because I couldn’t put her down. I would sit in the pediatrician’s office, weeping. He would assure me,”You’ll get through this”. All I could think was that my pediatrician was a liar, and that I was doing something wrong. Why didn’t I know how to fix this? Why couldn’t I make things better?

Possibly the only time she didn't cry

Possibly the only time she didn’t cry

“What did I get myself into?!”

“I was not prepared for this!”

“I have no idea what I’m doing!”

These are all thoughts that run through the mind of every new parent. New parents read every book available. You read baby product reviews, consult with doctors, and finally start listening to the advice of your parents. But, what you quickly learn is that you don’t have to know everything to be a good parent. It’s impossible to know it all.

This is a challenge for many employees, especially if they’re experiencing a downswing in their careers. That downswing could involve switching companies, experiencing an unexpected layoff, or even something that should be positive like accepting a promotion. There’s a desire, or pressure, to be omniscient. You think that if you knew it all, you would have been totally prepared and could have managed (or controlled) what came at you. But of course, this is impossible. So how do you manage through those difficult, colicky, periods in your career?

1. Lean on those around you. New parents rely on family, friends, and physicians. In business the same support structure can be developed. Call on colleagues, senior management, and those in your social structure. You may not know everything, but if you recognize the knowledge held by others, your understanding and preparedness will certainly increase.

2. Recognize that you will mess up. I’ve blogged endlessly about the mistakes I’ve made as a parent. I mess up all the time. We all have moments of weakness and failure in our professional lives as well. Understand that failure will occur, but recognize the lessons learned in each experience and what it takes to quickly rebound.

3. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for you. Everyone has an opinion on how to parent. There is no one right way to do things. This is so true in your job, especially if you’re stepping in to another person’s role. When people give you advice, don’t disregard it, test it out. It may or may not work. You need to find the right way of doing things for you.

4. No one is perfect. Truth. Simple as that. Push aside the pursuit of perfection and focus on what it takes to be effective in your role.

There are ups and downs in any experience. The downs teach us what we need to know so we can swing up, and the ups give us those highs so we can sustain the downs. My pediatrician was correct. We got through it. Not only did my precious girl grow out of her colicky phase, but she has become the coolest most pleasant child on Earth.

Know that those professional downswings will occur, but recognize that you can get through it. How do you overcome career colic?


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.

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