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You CAN Even!

Posted July 2, 2014 by Denise DeGennaro in On the Ladder
Have you heard (or said) the phrase: “I can’t even lately? This incomplete thought that originated from Tumblr has become a somewhat accepted phrase. Thought it has many emotional meanings depending on the situation, I’m going to focus here on when you say it because you are so frustrated that you just can’t deal with your situation anymore. “I just cannot right now, or “I can’t even” signifies that you have had it! Have you ever felt this way before, when the mere thought of dealing another second with something (or someone) is just unbearable?

Well, everyone has these days. Utter frustration renders you incapable to focus on work and leads to procrastination. How can you get yourself out of this slump and spiral?

Remember that you CAN even!

I recently came across this counter-phrase on Facebook and it cracked me up. I even printed out a motivation-style poster with the phrase for my office as a reminder to my student advisees (and myself).

Here are a few tips on getting re-focused when you think can’t even.

  • Make a to-do list, and complete the easiest task. Perhaps you feel like you’re drowning in work and don’t know where to begin. Take a  nice chunk of time and write out all of your to-dos, and any dates or deadlines that might accompany them. Then, focus your energy on starting to chip away at your list. A simple way to do this is find the easiest task on the list and just get it done. Small wins when  you’re in a rut can really help motivate you to press on and check off more to-dos. As my mom always says, “stop wringing your hands and roll up your sleeves!” What she means is, stop worrying about all you have to do, and just start working to get something done!
  • Write out your frustrations. Feeling like your thoughts are swirling? Find a private place (a draft in your personal email, or a personal journal) and write it all down. Get it out on paper, take a step away, and revisit the situations with a clear head.
  • Organize your inbox (or desk). This type of a low-priority task can be helpful to allow you to do some productive procrastination. Delete anything you absolutely don’t need, create categorized folders for emails you want to keep, and leave any messages requiring follow-up in your general inbox as a reminder.
  • Stay off social media! Sometimes when you’re in the “I can’t even” mindset, scrolling mindlessly through social media pages seems like a great idea. However, a negative mindset can be magnified if you see other people posting about how great their job is, or how nice the beach is…FOMO is a thing, Career Girls! Also, you may be tempted by the siren song of the “What’s on your mind” of the Facebook status box, or the 140 characters Twitter offers to vent – just don’t do it! Remember that employers (or bosses) may turn to social media to get insight into you. As annoying as that is, you don’t want to be seen as a complainer or negative. So, just stay away from those pages until you’re in a better mindset.
  • Focus on or do good. If everything just seems blah and frustrating, it can be hard to find the good in a given situation. Challenge yourself to find it, or to take a moment and do something nice for someone else, or appreciate the blessings in your life. Doing something nice for someone else has been shown to improve the doer’s mood!

These are just a few suggestions of strategies that have worked for me in the past. Career Girls, do you have any suggestions for getting yourself out of a negative mindset? Share them in the comments!


About the Author

Denise DeGennaro

Denise DeGennaro is a student affairs professional who helps undergrad and graduate students (and sometimes friends and family) at all stages in their transitions from school to career. She is an expert resume and cover letter writer and reviewer. Denise received her Master's in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Outside of work, Denise enjoys all things girly and loves testing out the latest beauty and nail art trends.