Beating Drudgery and Dejection Part 1

Keeping your Spirits Up in the face of Adversity with some ‘What’ Questions

(click below to view the video or read on if you’d prefer!)

The other day, a friend wrote me: “I am in a phase of life where everything is just plain drudgery, heavy annoyance and pain internally.…we are all struggling massively….” Does that speak to you too? This is a theme which may resonate with many of you considering the turn for the worse which the financial markets and the economy appear to be taking. The risk of a deepening Eurozone crisis, articles in the financial press about layoffs at the banks, all make for tough working conditions. My heart goes out to every one of you who may feel vulnerable in these current times. You may also feel vulnerable or frustrated if it looks like you won’t be able to complete all your work objectives for 2011, for whatever reason. So this video and the next one are about coping when things go wrong.

I’m sure many of you watching this would say that you work hard, possibly very hard but when it’s drudgery, then working hard becomes hard work, it’s no longer exciting, it’s dull, it’s like putting oneself through some kind of grind… Drudgery usually comes hand in hand with its good friend Dejection which is a state of mind where one is in low spirits. It’s an unhappy place where Drudgery and Dejection dwell. They work as a team to sap your motivation. First, Drudgery takes the fun out of being at work and then Dejection swoops in to make you think that you’re failing. In turn, this feeling of failure prevents you from taking action because you wonder ‘what’s the point?’

If you think you won’t make your objectives this year, feeling dejected will only make matters worse because it will slow you down, making it even more unlikely that you will complete your objectives on time. If you’re worried about being caught up in a redundancy wave, Dejection could feed your anxiety so much so that it might stop you dead in your tracks instead of continuing to perform, showing the value you bring to the firm and possibly reducing the risk of being let go.

Drudgery is easy to spot. It’s that sense of heaviness, that dull ache you feel when you’re in the office. But Dejection is more insidious. Two things to watch out for which will tell you that Dejection is perching on your shoulder. First, does this sense of heaviness translate in a feeling of languor, you know your limbs feel heavy, you feel tired, weighed-down, you move more slowly than usual. That loss of energy is not mere tiredness, it’s Dejection sucking out your ‘va-va-woum’.

The second thing to watch out for is whether you have a lot of ‘why’ questions going round in your mind? ‘Why’ questions about things that are going wrong or simply not proceeding according to plan just increase your focus on the problem and can be depressing. Like ‘why am I unable to finish this task when my colleague is already done?’ or ‘why did this rogue trader have to be at UBS?’

Do you feel tired? Do you have some ‘why’ questions in your head which depress you? If so, it’s time to fight back. First, let’s beat Dejection and its ‘why’ questions with some ‘what’ questions like:

  • “What’s good about what happened/what’s happening?'” With that question, you are telling yourself that you want to look at things from the standpoint of the ‘glass half full’.
  • “What can I learn from what happened?” That’s my personal favourite because I always like to learn new things so turning adversity into a learning opportunity really works for me.
  • “What stopped me / is stopping me now?” This is a great energy booster because often times what’s holding us back is just… us – because we’re being distracted by Dejection. When nothing but you is standing in your way, then just… get out of your own way!
  • “What can I do differently?” That’s right: open your mind, think outside the box, be creative. If something does not work out one way, try something else. So much in life is about trial and error so just have a go at something new.
  • “What else can I do?” This may sound a bit similar but I use this question to look at my resources like asking for help or brainstorming with others who’ll give me fresh ideas.
  • “What can I do to enjoy the process?” That’s an important one but it’s quite subtle. What this question is about is reconnecting to a sense of enjoyment, a bit of fun, of enthusiasm which Drudgery has squeezed out of your work life. It may seem a stretch so I’ll tell you more soon.


So here are the ‘what’ questions to replace those unhelpful ‘why’ questions which Dejection is whispering in your ear. They’re likely to feel a bit odd at first but don’t worry and really give them a go. I have used them more times than I can count and I can absolutely vouch for their efficacy!

In the next article, I’ll give you more tips on beating Drudgery. If this article resonated with you, don’t hesitate to contact me for a complimentary chat where we would explore what is going on for you and what you would like to have happen. To contact me, click here.

If you don’t have it already, get your copy of “5 Gear Shifts to Accelerate your Career!” and learn about the five building blocks of any successful career! Get it here now!

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