What does a “post-race blues” have to do with hitting your quota?
Updated: Mar 31
Well done! You did it! You crossed the finish line within the “cut-off” time! You have dreamed, aimed, planned this moment for months, and then, instead of feeling on top of the world and celebrating, you feel completely empty and deep in the blues. Hmm, what?!
When I joined LinkedIn as a Relationship Manager, I had several concerns and fears going into this new role. But to be frank, my greatest fear was the quota. For years I avoided working in a quota-based role because of the fear of not achieving it. Since they are based on quantifiable metrics, with quotas it is very clear if you reach your target or not. On the one hand, it makes life much easier because you have the clarity of what is expected from you. On the other hand, you don’t have control over whether customers decide to change their strategy and churn, move to competitors, or whether they are experiencing budget issues. One way or another, from the beginning of the quarter I began running at a high speed and got to the finish line three weeks ahead of time. But, after ten minutes of satisfaction and happiness, I felt a complete void and sadness.
In this blog, I want to share with you three tactics that helped me overcome this weird phase. I realized that my feelings after finishing a race and hitting the quota were very similar. I expect myself to be happy, but I am mostly tired, anxious, and get a horribly anti-climactic feeling.
Acceptance is the key to happiness
I think accepting the way we feel is the core lesson I keep learning in different situations. Every race I participated in, I thought to myself: “this time it will be different” and as soon as the endorphins came down and I had a proper goodnight’s sleep, I felt a kind of weird sadness that I couldn’t explain. It took me years to accept this feeling and not try to solve/fight/change it. Through time I learned that it is pretty common among runners to have the “post-race-blues”. Funnily enough, in the past few weeks, I found out that I could have the very same blues in the business world. In the beginning, when this weird sadness began to rise I tried to fight it. I was angry at myself and couldn’t figure out what is wrong with me. It took me a few good days to practice deep breathing and try to accept that my emotional reaction to achievement is not what I would expect of myself. I try to keep my focus on being present with these uncomfortable feelings and wait for them to pass. To be honest, I haven’t found a better solution than breathing deep and waiting for those feelings to fade away. I am still learning how to embrace them when they arise. With races, I got used to them after going through the same anti-climactic feeling cycle every time. I guess now I will have to learn how to accept them in the business world as well.
Find Your Celebration
When I feel the blues, my initial act will be to take a step back from other people and go into my shell. However, I realized that spending time with a group of people can help forget those irritating thoughts. Also, I find it easier to celebrate something else and use that celebration to bring back good energy. It might sound a bit like a “Dali-Lama” mantra, but sometimes focusing on someone or something else that has nothing to do with us, can change the energies we have.
It doesn’t always have to be big parties and a lot of people. Sometimes, just spending time with a few friends and focusing on their stories helps me step away from the endless emotional cycles and overthinking I go through myself.
Luckily, I had the privilege to be in Dublin during Saint Patrick’s Day and to spend it with a group of new people from different places around the world that I probably would have never met if I hadn’t worked for LinkedIn. Hopping from one place to the other, socializing and talking about anything else but the “weird blues” I have helped me take a break and focus on happy energies. This works for me, but won’t necessarily work for you. The point here is to find your celebration and follow through with it. We are creatures of habit, and if we are in the habit of celebrating in a way that works for us, we’ll keep finding ways to celebrate, which in turn will help us deal with the spiral of thoughts we are going through.
Plan the next step
The greatest difference between ultra-marathon running and sales is that the next quarter is just around the corner, and you must start planning for it, so you don’t really have a lot of time to be in the blues. I remember my running coach shared with me his method for how to get over the post-race blues. He looks at races in triplets: You always anchor three races planned ahead and then when you are finished with one, you have another one in the pipeline. I could never do it because I needed more time to digest the race, all the emotions it evokes, and get some space to feel and embrace everything before registering for a new race. With sales, it is much easier: there is a quota ready to be achieved and the major question is focusing on the “How?” and less on the “What?”. By planning your next step you will be able to gain some perspective about what you are experiencing and realize that what you achieved is a chapter in your bigger story, and that you are on your way to your next chapter.
My two cents looking forward
If you are one of the lucky people who don’t have the “post-achieving-blues” – I am kind of envious of you. For those of you who can relate to the blues feeling I just shared with you, the only thing I can say is that it does eventually go away. It will go away faster if you understand that it’s normal, get in the habit of celebrating with others or with yourself and start planning your next quota. These are not magic solutions, but they’ve certainly proved to help me quite a bit.