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December is here. Along with the stress (and hopefully, joy) that the holiday season brings us, we’ll also be faced with an increasing number of brain drains. These are the things that literally suck the life force out of you. When you get to be my age — 58 — it seems like you have more of them than ever. They rarely go away — they just keep building up. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t take some action to change the situation. In fact, you probably need to if you are going to be happy. Here are five big brain drains and what you can do:

Bad personal relationships — They are a cancer on your spirit. Move on. It may be painful and it may be costly, but you have to do it or you will eventually be crushed. Cancerous “friends” need to go; bad partners, too. Divorce is expensive but so is staying together in terms of what it does to your spirit. Either fix the relationship — do what you can to make it work — or, if you determine that you cannot make it better, get out and move on. There has to be something/someone better out there for you, although it may not seem like it at first.

Bad clients — If you work in the A/E business, you know what I mean. These are the clients who beat you down on fee. They don’t respect you or your time. They demotivate your good people. They don’t pay their bills, yet they may expect you to jump at a moment’s notice in spite of them not jumping for you. Get rid of them! The only reason you suffer with any bad client is because you don’t have enough good clients. Go out and get them! Don’t be lazy and negative yourself. You can do it!

Bad employees — They may anger your clients or constituents, drop the ball in the eleventh hour, or just create problems for you with other people. It doesn’t matter if you are in a public or private organization — neither is immune to bad employees. They have made their beds and the bed clearly says “dysfunctional employee.” You don’t need, nor can you afford, any level of dysfunction with your employees. Reform them or move them out of your organization. 

Social media — One in eight minutes online is spent on Facebook. It can really suck you down into negativity if you let it. Fake news items, angry outbursts, jealousy over other people’s fake lives — it’s all stuff that can suck you in and destroy your morale. Cut way back — or cut it out altogether — and then see how you feel. Most of us spend way too much time on social media. It starts to become a substitute for real life, and it is a poor one!

Too many hobbies — If your golf game isn’t going well in spite of spending record amounts of time and money playing it, maybe it is time to hang up the clubs for a while. This is just one example of many where hobbies (auto racing, house flipping, etc.) can become too big of a deal, and when they don’t go well it sucks us down.

The bottom line: Eliminate the problems, stress-inducers, and negative influences in your life every way you can. Culling the bad is every bit as critical as cultivating the good. The good has to outweigh the bad or you’ll be renting space in your brain to some very bad tenants!

And speaking of “good” — we have a great issue here of Civil + Structural Engineer! Read it for information and inspiration. And when you’re done with it, pass it along to someone else who can enjoy it!


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Mark C. Zweig

mzweig@zweiggroup.com

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