I believe in cycles. Everything cycles up and down or back and forth. It may not always be regular, but it comes and goes. I've found this in my marriage, my parenting, my hobbies, my relationships and my work, among other places. It's a truth in my life that things ebb and flow in interest, energy, understanding, enthusiasm, etc. I no longer worry when things are not always peak, I realize it's just an ebb.
However, there are times when these ebbs turn negative and ugly things like stress, anxiety, and fear enter the equation. When it comes to this I have to sit back and find a way to figure out what the problem is exactly, or else that feeling will prolong an ebb and take over certain areas of my life until I deal with it.
Emotions are hard to nail down sometimes, and we're wary of dealing with them at all when it comes to work. We vehemently squash anything that's not happy or content and pretend nothing is wrong. We want to keep it ‘just business'.
What you CAN do is use those emotions as a barometer. Often the things that are bothering us, the problems we are squashing, are good indicators of needed change or neglect that is taking place. You need to face them, look at them, and move on when they arise. These tough patches are usually intensely personal, so while I can't tell you how to solve them without actually talking to you, I can offer some advice on what's helped me.
Yes, I'm aware this is usually a great indicator of crazy but hear me out. Next time you decide to rant or mull answer yourself with “Yes, you're right” and then again with “Maybe it's not what you think”. Your gut will check you on which is the right answer if you're honest with yourself. The next question to continue the conversation is “why is this so?”. Gathering facts instead of emotions will help steady you, regardless if you are right or wrong.
Fear is baseless. It's afraid of what we don't know because we don't know. Anxiety is tied to a specific outcome or situation. You can wrangle both of these beasts by nailing down the things you are specifically worried about.
Imagine your fear or anxiety is a balloon. Now write down the simplest statements you can about what's bothering you. Each one of these statements is a pinhole in that balloon now, slowly letting the air out and giving you some relief from the unknown. Go back to #1 for help on questions to grow the list. The more you ignore that balloon, the bigger it will grow. Don't give it that power.
The want for more can cause us to act out as if we are angry because we are angry. Angry that we are not meeting our expectations or limits. This is the BEST gauge to personal growth in your profession. Noticing hunger can help you zero in on what your next steps in growth or education should be. It can be the thing that solidifies your musings of finding a new path.
Hunger can be the root of many fears and anxieties. How do you know when you have a hunger problem? When nothing fixes your anxiety. You have a client or situation that is bothering you and you keep saying to yourself, “soon, soon, soon it will get better/be over”, or you meet a goal and realize you aren't as excited as you had hoped you'd be. This is not to be confused with an ebb.
You are your worst enemy when you can't be honest. No one is asking you to tell everyone your deepest fears or anxieties, but saying them aloud (to an empty room, see #1) or acknowledging them is the best way to start moving on.
Ebbs should be times of contentment and rest, not earmarked by strain. We need them to stay on top of our game, to get back in tune with what else is out there, to give ourselves a much-needed break.