About 3 weeks ago, I misplaced my mojo.
What happened? I’m not sure, one day, I just couldn’t find my mojo.
I’m usually a very self-motivated person who gets shit done, and do it well and quickly (except when it involves numbers because I have dyscalculia), and suddenly I literally had to kick myself in the butt to get anything done. My focus was all over the place, thinking strategically seemed like a gargantuan effort and thinking about that and all the stuff I had to do increased my anxiety level.
We’re 236 days into various levels of lockdown in Ireland. That’s 7.76 months - 33.7 weeks - 5,664 hours - 33,9840 minutes. That’s a heck of a lot of time.
I know I’m lucky, I still have a job and I can work remotely as easily as from the office. Does it mean the past 250 days have been easy? Hell no! To retain most of our staff, we have all had to make sacrifices such as going on short-time during the 1st lockdown.
At the best time this summer, I was able to return to Krav Maga training, in small groups, wearing the mask (you get used to it very quickly), and that helped me massively. When you can’t control anything, kicking and hitting people (with pads) does wonder for your mental health. But that has been over since mid-September when all contact sports and indoor classes have been banned.
But the last couple of weeks sure have been difficult. Tash Bristow from Sanctus summarized it way better than I could on the People function Slack channel:
** You've been set with the task to support people's overall well-being and engagement when you're struggling yourself. You're not a qualified coach or therapist. You've had to make redundancies. You can't talk to your friends at work about things that are going on because it's confidential. Sometimes people won't involve you in work 'banter' because 'you're HR'. You're in a stand-alone or senior position and you're having to make decisions on things that have never been done before. You feel like you're leading in the darkness. Every decision you make... "Am I way off, here?" **
My best friend told me: “I don’t know how people can think strategically all the time at the moment”. I replied that I thought they were faking it some of the time. Because guess what, that week my mojo was no-where to be found and in order to think strategically on anything, I had to spend 5 hours doing mind-numbing tasks (i.e. database clean-up) in order to get about 1 hour of strategic work done. So sure, this database clean-up needs to be done by the end of the quarter, so if my brain is not functioning very well right now, why not spend whatever brain-power I have on the operational tasks that don’t require more thinking? As long as I cross off some of the things that are on my to-do list for the quarter, well, it’s good enough.
But what happens when good enough is not enough?
Last May, as part of the up-skilling program for the team, I gave everyone the target of producing 1 blog post every 2 weeks, and because I wouldn’t ask people to do something I wouldn’t do, I have been writing a blog post every week since then. However, with my dearly departed mojo I really felt that I didn’t have 2 brain cells left to write anything. Do you think that stopped me? It didn’t. I guess I’m too stubborn to not meet my target (providing said target is in my control); I wrote my blog post each week. Granted, I won’t win a prize for either of them, but that kept my anxiety at bay.
Where did my mojo turn up?
To be fair, I’m not quite sure my mojo had turned up yet. I think I got some of it back this week, although, on this day of US election result, I’m worried my mojo might run for the hills screaming.
How am I finding my way out of the Tartarus of the misplaced mojo?
And so far, I haven’t found the panacea. Wish I had, though, so I could tell you. But I just think at this point, there isn’t a one size fits all solution or a solution that works for everyone on the first attempt.
My process has been really simple: acknowledge my feelings, accept them and not be afraid about voicing them.
I’m anxious, worried and I feel that everything is absolute garbage right now.
I compromised with my brain: we agreed that I was going to do “good enough” at work for a few days so that the anxiety of not doing my very best would calm down.
I gave up journaling for 10 days – no, I’m not feeling grateful for anything, let alone for being alive these days. Being alive is your basic state of existence, so come on, there has to be more to your life.
I gave up all the self-care activities that I’ve been religiously doing since March since they just felt like chores and I didn’t have the energy for that.
I ate fries for the first time in 2020 and drank diet coke (first time since February).
I inundated my friends, family and social media feeds with kitten pictures because we all need cute in our lives.
But mostly, I’ve said out loud: No, I’m not ok. Everything is shite. I can’t see any end to this. Everything is difficult.
So… How’s this week going?
Well, objectively, nothing has changed in my life. at. all.
Yet, I’m feeling a bit better.
I know there are better ways of recovering your mojo – I’ve filled a full wiki page for the office with different ways of taking care of your mental health.
Letting the tsunami of negativity and despair roll over you is probably not the most efficient way to deal, but that’s what worked for me.
As long as you find something that works for you, you’re doing the right thing. Don’t give in to the peer pressure of “focusing on the positive” if it’s not working for you. Meditation, fresh air, healthy eating, Zoom games with your friends, staying active, going to bed at regular hours every day, staying away from the news, origami making, sewing… all these things have worked for me at some time in the last 236 days.
Do whatever works for you.