"When a leader's day ends, it's never perfect. There's always unfinished business. There's a problem she's still got to solve, decision she's still got to make, and plan she still needs to finalize.
But today's done, and it's time to unplug. It's hard, though, because the mind is racing around all the day's problems, decisions, and tasks you didn't get to. It's really hard to deal with negative thoughts when you're emotionally and mentally drained - like you always are at the end of the day.
And you don't want to deal with troubling, work-related thoughts on personal time. It's not fair to you, and it's not fair to your friends and family.
That's why you need an end-of-the-day routine that's going to transition you from this amped up, emotionally charged state you're in, to a more relaxed state of mind. And to do it, you're going to pause, plan, and reflect. That's the routine: 'Pause', 'Plan', and 'Reflect'. Let me explain.
Negative thoughts crave attention. So you want to pause and give them just a little bit of attention. They don't need a lot, just enough attention to let them know that you'll be back to deal with them later. Then you want to make your plan. Before you unplug for the day, you want to plan when and how you're going to revisit the troubling thoughts.
Let's say you've been putting off a decision, and it's been stuck on your to-do list for a number of days. Before you leave the office, find a place for it in tomorrow's schedule, preferably in the morning when you're more fresh.
When you pause and acknowledge a troubling thought and then make a plan to think it through, you've started to manage your thoughts instead of letting your thoughts manage you. And that's a key principle for this end-of-day routine.
Now you want to reflect. You want to reflect on the day's accomplishments. And one thing that happened that day that you're grateful for.
When you pause, plan and reflect, you make peace (at least until tomorrow) with your troubling thoughts, and you start to trigger a more positive state of mind. When you pause and plan, it's like cooling off after a hard workout. You're rinsing the day's crap away before you head home.
And when you reflect on your accomplishments and express just a little bit of gratitude, you're transitioning into a more positive state of mind. Remember, if you don't manage your thoughts, your thoughts will manage you!
So when the day ends, pause, plan, and reflect, and you'll be happier. So will your friends and family."
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