Recently, I was coaching a client when she had the funniest reply to what I thought was a pretty normal greeting, "How are you doing?" She hemmed and hawed a little and blurted out, "Not great, it's one of those cat-throwing days."
In full disclosure, I'm more of a dog person than a cat person, but as a general animal lover, I responded with concern, "What does that mean?" She proceeded to describe those days where work was full of those annoying challenges that you could not solve, technology was acting up, you ran from meeting to meeting but got nothing done, and arrived at home so exhausted that you didn't even have the energy to pet your cat when he jumped on your lap. So, you throw him onto the floor.
After sharing a compassionate laugh together we started to discuss the seriousness of this situation. What leads up to these types of days? How could this situation be prevented? Who are the cats in your life that this situation forces you to push away?
There are many outside forces that can contribute to these "Cat-Throwing" days, but in TIGNUM style, let's focus on what's in your control. While we could write another book on how to prevent this from happening, I shared with her (and now with you) three common and very solvable signs that you may be in the cat-throwing danger zone:
- Feeling chronic sleep deprivation - I use the word chronic because we've found that even the most committed Sustainable High Performers allow their sleep quantity to degrade over time. Shave a little here, shave a little there, and before you know it, you're back to getting only 6 hours or less a night. One great way to avoid this is to track your rolling 5-day total. While all of us need a different amount of sleep, 35 hours tends to be the general minimum. Tracking your sleep over 5 days helps your brain realize that how you feel today is not just the product of last night; it's the product of your past 5 days. Once you can achieve 35 hours/5 days, see if upping it to 40 makes you - and your cat - happier.
- Becoming a comatose meeting attender - I use the word comatose because once you stop being consciously strategic with the meetings you attend, your preparation for those meetings, your impact at those meetings, the timing of those meetings (how long, how much time between, etc.), and the value-driving opportunities (or lack of opportunities) at your meetings, you become a cat-throwing meeting attender. Although we are big fans of saying yes to opportunities, we are bigger fans of being strategic and ruling your meetings.
- Needing a quick charge of your battery before entering the cat zone - I use the word quick because you would be surprised by how much better you can feel with just a 5-minute recharge of your energy. Try taking a 5-minute micro-nap, listening to two upbeat songs (singing along is even better), rapidly walking around the block, visualizing yourself walking through a car wash and coming out clean, energized, and fully present, or even just reflecting on how grateful you are to be home.
The point is that even though cats are very resilient with 9 lives and quite agile (always landing on their feet), other people in your family may not be. Thinking about the cats in your life and making sure you show up at home at your best are critical parts of being a Sustainable High Performer. Try these 3 suggestions, and as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.