Six Ways to Overcome Obstacles and Reverse a Negative Work Trend

The Promise of 10% Better When Facing Obstacles

Can a day be 10% better when you nail your to-do list after attending a productivity workshop?

My day was at least 10% better than the day before. Incremental progress, right?

Until I saw something on my computer screen. Until an obstacle in the making taunted me.

Just when I was in the middle of rebooting my personal health operating system after my recent health scare, something flashed. The latest Mac OS update call to action appeared on my computer screen.

Mmmh, well, it will only take a few minutes. I clicked on the install button.

And then it happened.

Gasp! The fan in my 8-month old laptop got louder. This sound is bad news, like a hiker climbing into thin air, when the breathing becomes more difficult.

50% Worse

A red apple flashed on the screen and then vanished. Oh no! Apple logos are supposed to be white on a Mac.

The regrets kicked in. If only I had ignored the call to action on my screen and not clicked on the button. If only I had backed up more recently. Due to my recent health distractions, I had not backed up in ten weeks. This was a big setback.

The computer gasped for air regardless of the number of attempted reboots.

The situation was now 50% worse. 10% better just turned into a case of fake news. And there was a colossal obstacle in my way of productivity.

10% Happier

While waiting for the diagnosis at the Apple store, my genius girl, whose name was similar to a character from Greek mythology, looked into my eyes with compassion. Her cool black t-shirt and calm attitude helped. Plus, her testing skills were smart and efficient.

On a personal note, she introduced me to 10% Happier, a meditation app that Apple rolled out to its employees. Taking deep breaths, I downloaded the app to my iPhone. The happy idea soothed me for a few moments, but my unhappiness, at least 50% sadder, took over when my genius girl spoke.

The diagnosis? Faulty logic board. Any data not currently backed up will be lost when a new one is installed. Ten weeks of work in the dumpster. I bargained with the young woman wearing the black t-shirt.

Can’t you preserve the data before replacing the circuit board and a clean install of the new Mojave Operating System? Nope. Who names an OS after an arid desert anyway?

After saying goodbye to my laptop, I resigned myself to my machine’s 14-day visit to the Apple hospital. The clock was ticking on my waiting game. Now, I needed to figure out how to be productive without my productivity machine.

As a result, my percentage meter became more volatile, causing me to consider my setback with a problem solver mindset.

10% of life

Lou Holtz, legendary college football coach, amended Charles Swindoll’s quote to read:

Life is 10% of what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it.

A key principle in my book, Activate Your Agile Career: How Responding to Change Will Inspire Your Life’s Work, is “respond to change.” It is the surest way to tackle a setback.

Hidden inside my unfortunate story is some good news. I have access to my old computer with historical data from nine months ago.

It’s time to tame the angst of uncertainty and dread and overcome obstacles in front of me. While my recent working documents, signature presentations, and photos are MIA, here are a few ideas to climb out of the pit. If 90% of life is how you respond to it, you can:

  1. Acknowledge the negative change; grieve if you must.hallway-sign-onward-in-face-of-obstacle
  2. Take inventory of the damage.
  3. Respond to negative change; adapt, prioritize, and make plans to solve the problem.
  4. Start from where you are.
  5. Design a better system that helps you prevent the problem next time.
  6. Move on. Let your negative feelings go.

And one more thing. Make sure your computer data is backed up in the cloud, or on a reliable external drive. You will be way more than 10% happier when you realize you dodged the negative drain on your brain and your work.

If you are interested in the future of work, career development, the workplace, personal branding, workforce trends/ideas, agility, or how to cultivate happy profitable employees, subscribe to Marti’s 52 Ideas. For more details on career agility, check it out here.


Marti Konstant
Marti Konstant is a workplace futurist with an agile mindset. She is a career growth analyst, author, speaker, personal brand architect, and founder of the Agile Careerist Project™. What started out as a quest to fine-tune her evolving career sparked a research project, a book, and workshops, where future of work and career agility are central themes.

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