With so many industries impacted by the pandemic, many salespeople face difficult times, and the continued uncertainty is taking its toll on their mental wellbeing.
Salespeople are familiar with working in demanding, fast-paced, target-driven environments. However, what we’re faced with today is completely unknown. The challenges many are being asked to cope with have intensified because they have nothing to benchmark their current situation against. Where they would normally turn to friends, family and colleagues for guidance, they are finding that their support networks are dealing with their own personal and/or work-related issues and, unfortunately, don’t always have the emotional capacity or time to help bring that much-needed balance and calm.
According to the charity Mind, one in four people will experience a mental wellbeing problem of some kind each year in England, while one in six people report experiencing a common mental wellbeing problem (like anxiety or depression) in any given week in England. What’s staggering is that those statistics are from a 2014 study, so the situation is likely to be much worse today.
Staying quiet and keeping our thoughts and feelings inside is not an option. The more that we can all understand and talk about our state of mind and mental wellbeing, the better.
What is your mindset and why is it important?
Your mindset can be defined as your way of thinking and the opinions that you hold to be true and believe in. Your mindset is unique to you and has been developed over time through the multitude of experiences you’ve had, including the positive and negative stimuli that have shaped your subconscious belief system and ideas about people, work, society, the world, etc. Everything that you ingest and that gets processed through your mind (consciously and subconsciously) is helping to shape your thinking and either confirms or challenges your current thought processes and views.
On a day-to-day basis, your mindset plays a big part in how you react and respond to what’s going on around you. To maintain your energy through this period, it’s crucial for you to take control of your mind and manage how you programme it. If you’ve always seen an activity negatively, then your mindset has been pre-programmed, or fixed, to react in an off-putting or unconstructive way. A good example of this could be when you are required to complete any sales admin and your default state is seeing this as a mundane task. If your mindset was open, or growth-focused, then your internal programming would see the admin as part of the longer term strategy to save you time and make more client connections, because the data would be captured on the CRM and information retrieval would be quicker. Through this open and constructive approach, you would be focused on seeing the benefits and opportunities of completing the task. The more often you can consider activities with an open mind and a willingness to understand, the better your chance of developing a positive mindset.
You may be thinking to yourself, ‘But what about when I don’t know the answer or don’t agree with what I’m being asked to do?’. In both of those scenarios, and to help you develop a positive mindset, you need to reprogramme your behaviour so that you react differently. As opposed to doing nothing or thinking that you cannot do anything, it’s your responsibility to be constantly curious and find the answer to develop your understanding further. If you don’t understand why you have to do it and are blindly completing the task, the likelihood is that you will have no motivation to complete it and thus it will always feel like a worthless exercise. If you understand the reason why it’s important and how it can provide value, you create a positive reason to complete the task. Your mindset shifts as a result of your understanding.
What can we do to help ourselves during this challenging period?
In order to help ourselves through this period, we need to ensure that, as much as possible, our mindsets are in the open, optimistic and upbeat zone. This is as opposed to the pessimistic and negative zone where our thoughts can spiral out of control. Focusing our energy on feeding ourselves positive affirmations will help to avoid emotional breakdowns and allow us the time to support those around us.
It might sound too trivial to suggest that we need to maintain a level of positivity, but, essentially, that is the key to maintaining our mental wellbeing. I used to find that, when my mind was idle and focused on something depressing that I thought might happen, or when I constantly consumed bad news and media with negative headlines, it had a damaging influence on my thought process and, subsequently, my mood. I believe that it’s better to process the facts available from each situation, and then to give myself a positive affirmation and focus on what’s within my control. Creating this constructive habit and correcting myself when I’m drifting into a negative thought space really helps me to manage my mindset and mental wellbeing.
I appreciate that it’s not as simple as that for everyone, and that when someone isn’t feeling good about themselves or their prospects it can be tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been in that situation myself: staring at the bottom of the barrel, floating in the abyss and feeling as though there is no hope. I remember having to sign on at the job centre every two weeks and feeling like there were no opportunities for me – everything that could go wrong found a way to go wrong. The unfortunate reality for me was that, until I was ready to really want to pull myself out of that situation, I was going to use everything as an excuse for why my life was turning out this way. Sometimes, it’s easy to say outwardly that we are trying when, deep down, we know we’re just ticking a box. Until you take that step from within, find the courage and make a choice to want to change your outlook, you are likely to always default back to pessimism as soon as something goes wrong. When you hit rock bottom, where nothing else can affect you, that’s when you realise you can seize control again and are ready to find your way out. The more positive thoughts and ideas that you’re able to fill your headspace with, the better your opportunity to bring yourself out of the negative zone. Fortunately for me, my saving grace was that I had some amazing family and friends who didn’t give up on me – they checked in on me and did what they could to keep nudging me, until eventually things clicked back into place.
If you’re doing ok and have the capacity to do so, then check in on your family, friends and work colleagues – those that you know might be struggling or who you haven’t heard from in some time. The greatest gift that you can give someone who isn’t doing so well is your time. Listen to them, encourage them and support them.
Stay safe and manage your mindset.
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