In an ironic turn of events, the day after finishing a half-marathon, and a week after I finished writing a book, I came across my notes for a possible article about post-performance routines. It was sorely needed, as I was feeling the lackadaisical lassitude of the post-partier. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the party, but what now?
Unless you're a professional party planner, you probably don't consider the events of your life to be like a big event you just arranged, and you probably don't systematically examine what worked and what didn't work. We all have our personal parties, like public speeches, musical or athletic performances, or our performance as parents, partners or employees.
During the party, you have difficult moments you may have anticipated, like when the cake doesn't arrive on time and you must find a substitute, or you're two minutes behind target at the midpoint of the race. Now that it's over, you can use the less than stellar moments, as well as the wins, to plan your next performance by covering the following points as part of your post-performance routine.
- Emotional release: No matter how big or small the event, there's usually some emotion associated with its completion. After finishing my book, I was almost giddy with relief and very energized. That's when I started going through the piles of paper where, a week later, the notes for this article emerged. Sometimes finishing is a downer, like after an uninspired performance, when a pick-me-up like an afternoon with friends might be in order. It helps to recognize that your emotional reaction is normal. Once you've allowed yourself your feelings, perhaps sharing them with someone, you can move forward.
- Analysis: I didn't consider analyzing my performance as an author (it's my first book), though I did immediately analyze my performance as a marathoner (not my first). Trying not to judge my slower run, I took note of it and will assess my training program for tweaks I can make. Don't declare your performance bad, simply consider what you might change and what you might keep. After a satisfying performance, note the things you'd like to be sure to do next time.
- Rehearsal: Rehearsal involves imagining or practicing what you would like to do next time. Sometimes you do it virtually and sometimes in real-time. Drank too much and got way too flirty at the annual office party? Your analysis reveals what you can change next time. Imagine or visualize pacing yourself at the next party, like I'm imagining pacing myself at the next race. Sometimes you imagine yourself in a situation, like giving a speech, and practice delivering it in real-time in front of a mirror.
- Coping: After my uninspired but tiring run, I felt like I needed a break. Accomplishing some low-impact household activities was relaxing. I wasn't lightning fast, but I finished, so dessert and dinner out were rewards. When a friend texted me, complimenting me on my run, good coping was graciously accepting the compliment instead of grumbling, 'Thanks, but my time was slower than two years ago.' Celebrating or rewarding success, or completion, is good coping.
- Letting Go: The party's over. It's time to call it quits and move onto the next challenge. You've emoted, analyzed, rehearsed and coped. Now it's time to stop thinking about yesterday and start planning your next party.
Inspired by finishing this post, tomorrow I'll begin figuring out what my next book will be and where my next marathon will take me. Looking ahead and starting to work on new projects provide a good emotional boost to counter lingering post-party blues.
More advice on how to be happy from YourTango: