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Limiting Languishing

September 18, 2021
limiting languishing

Languishing is getting special attention these days.

As organizational psychologist Adam Grant describes it, languishing isn’t as strong as being depressed or burned out – but is strong enough to make us feel like we’re just muddling along, looking through a foggy windshield.

Languishing isn’t a new concept; decades of research have shown that it can disrupt focus and diminish motivation. In fact, we’ve learned practices for preventing or limiting languishing.

First, we know what doesn’t usually work: simply putting on a happy face.

Pressuring ourselves and others to always look at the bright side can feel dismissive or annoying, as well as veer into a form of toxic positivity.

So what does work? The answers Grant shares are predictably practical and actionable:

Pay attention to small wins, finding ways to highlight and extend them. “Death by a thousand paper cuts” can work in reverse – creating momentum as small wins accumulate into ever bigger wins.

Block out time to focus fully on a single task. Resist creating time confetti, “… where we take what could be meaningful moments of our lives and we shred them into increasingly tiny, useless pieces.“ Instead, protect the time you need to get into flow.

Deliberately build more meaning and fun into each day. How do you make a difference to others? And how could you find your funny bone more often? Fun and meaning in one part of our lives creates positive feelings and energy that can carry over into other parts of our lives.

I’ve found that these are not just good leadership practices for work, they’ve become good life practices as well.

What practices help you stay energized and engaged, especially in times like these?

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