The Groundhog Day Strategy

I have been a soccer mom for many years, standing and cheering on the sidelines of my son Josh’s games.

After witnessing so many matches, the coach in me began to see a pattern: in games where there were a quick series of errors (like letting goals go by from the other team, or missing shots), the players’ demeanor changed visibly.

At first, it was just scrunched faces. Then it would progress to kicking the grass. Then, if I was close enough to hear, only slightly veiled profanity.

Like a tragic choreography, I would witness the mental and physical collapse of the entire team.

Play would get really sloppy. Players would yell at their own teammates in anger. Elbowing and shoving of the opposing team would escalate. The referees would get an earful of melodramatic protest (soccer players are my favorite actors and floppers in the world — they fake so well!).

Almost always, we lost the game.

Why do we let the failures of today affect our motivation for tomorrow?

When we make a mistake, or have a super crappy, unproductive day, or we lose a sale or upset a client, or in these COVID-19 times find productivity at 50% or less of normal, it is really easy to beat ourselves up and fixate on our failures.

We stew in our own inadequacies, and carry this emotional sludge around like an annoying guest.

This is why it is absolutely essential to develop a concrete way to hit the reset button and leave the disappointment of the past behind.

Emotional Calamity? Enter: The Groundhog Day Strategy

For those of you who miss the pop culture reference to the movie Groundhog Day, it tells the story of a weatherman (Bill Murray), trapped in a repeating loop of living the same day over and over (which happens to be Groundhog Day). Each new day brings a chance for a do-over, and he attacks the opportunity with bizarre zeal.

We need to develop an appreciation for, and a habit of, consciously and consistently hitting a reset button for our emotional well-being. I call this the Groundhog Day Strategy.

How to utilize the Groundhog Day Strategy

In the moment

You don’t always have time to take a walk around the block after committing a blunder. Sometimes, you need to go from one meeting or session to the next. So even if you just have 30 seconds, stop and take a deep breath. Let the burn of embarrassment or shame drop through you and out your feet as you exhale. Take a nice big inhale, and simply say to yourself. “It’s ok. New start.”

As a daily practice

Before starting each day, symbolically pour out any failure or disappointment from the past day. My husband Darryl assembled a bowl of water with a crystal in it that sits on my desk while I coach people all day. Each morning, I sit quietly for a moment, thinking about the prior day’s lessons. Then I pour the water into a plant, and refresh the bowl.

Develop your own practice for this, using a physical means of releasing any shame or frustration from the prior day.

As a monthly or quarterly reset

Planning on a regular basis is a key part of sustained business success. At each planning interval, do a thoughtful reflection of what went well, and what didn’t go well in the last planned period.

Write down actions that you will take to reinforce the good, and minimize the bad.

Then, as in your daily practice, enact a physical ritual that allows you to close the chapter from that period, and start afresh.

In all my years as a business owner, creative and coach, I have never seen a productive outcome from continually beating myself up for what I should have done.

Whenever I see my clients spiraling down in woulda, coulda, shoulda, I invite them to hit the reset button.

Life is too short to live with regret.

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