Have you noticed how knowing how to make progress is one of those things that only seems massively important when you’re not making progress?
The stinger is that being able to get that feeling of making progress is so essential to motivating ourselves to keep going. Without it, we feel stuck and get frustrated very easily. We lose hope. We give up. We don’t see the point in trying, if we’re not going anywhere.
In fact, being able to make progress is essential to feeling like you’re living a kick-ass, meaningful life.
Without it, you will certainly slip into negative thinking, questioning what it’s all for, and why should you bother. Feeling stuck is just a natural consequence of not triggering that feeling of progress.
The good news is you don’t have to light up the world to turn it all around (even though this is precisely what most movers and shakers try to do!)
If you’re a go-getter, I KNOW you’ve been there before.
How do I know?
Because this is a common problem experienced by people who have big dreams, and a desire to go out and set the world alight. It’s not something experienced by people without vision or ambition.
Unraveling the Go-Getters’ ‘Stuckness’
I’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and the most common block that talented people come up against is trying to do everything, all at once. Even if they don’t intend to actually do everything in one go, they still try to see that track they’re going to run on.
The way to overcome this is both simple and sophisticated.
Let me explain.
It’s simple in that you have to take the first obvious step forward to be able to make progress. Don’t try and make it complicated or too involved. Imagine you’re hitting a golf ball… you don’t want to be whacking it all around the course. Just put it as close to the hole as you possibly can.
It’s also simple in that you need to know where you’re going and keep in mind that bigger outcome you’re shooting for. Paint that picture of where you want to get to in your mind’s eye: even if it’s something like finishing the paperwork clogging up your desk, or getting the kitchen cleared up. Visualize the end result – the task finished.
Right, now here’s where it gets sophisticated.
You need to keep your eye on both of these things at the same time: the end goal, and the simple, direct baby steps.
Take your eye off the baby steps, and you get mentally absorbed into a candy-land dream that will never materialist. Take your eye off the big picture, and you get trapped in the long grass of minutia.
Every Journey Begins With A First Step
With that in mind, here is the step-by-step process to making effective progress quickly:
Get clear on where you want to end up. See the end goal – and sure, plan this end result in lots of detail.
Now chunk back and decide what is the most obvious first thing you need to do.
Take the first obvious step, holding in mind the big picture, i.e. where you want to end up.
When you’ve done that, take the next step.
Only ever plan the next two or three steps down the way.
Between Minutia and Candy Land
The road to real, tangible, jaw-dropping, tummy-turning progress lies slap-bang between those two worlds. You need to walk with one foot in each, and divide your attention between each on a daily basis, to really take the straightest path to where you need to go.
It works beautifully if you have an idea of what you want to create and where you want to end up. Sure, you can imagine and visualize all the detail in that end result… but trying to map in the same detail *how* you’re going to get there is flat out going to mess you up.
Name Your Candy Land
I’m curious to see what you’re shooting for. Leave me a comment, and describe your big vision – that ultimate goal you’re going to work towards.
Movers and shakers make things happen by getting clear on where they’re going, and then using the process described above.
That’s it! Go ahead and leave a comment sharing your ultimate vision for what you want to create.
Workplace stress is a modern epidemic. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. This is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year in lost work hours and medical bills.
Clearly, if you’re suffering from work stress – you’re far from alone. But, work stress isn’t inevitable.
In this article, I’m going to help you identify the root cause of your stress and suggest the most suitable ways to cope with job stress so you can become a happy and productive worker again.
Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. The causes of stress include:
Too much work – you feel overwhelmed by your work and find yourself saying: “There are not enough hours in the day!”
The job is too easy, not challenging or inspiring – this is where boredom (which is stressful) sets in.
Pressure from co-workers or lack of social support – colleagues are not helpful or only care about their own tasks.
Little praise and lots of criticism – this is where a lousy manager uses constant criticism to ‘try’ to motivate you.
Very demanding or competitive working culture – sales departments often fit this category.
Not having enough control over job-related decisions – this is when people try to micro-manage you.
High expectations on yourself or seeking perfection – while it’s good to do your best, being a perfectionist can be a powerful stress generator.
Low salary – if you work hard but receive slim financial rewards, you may start to feel downhearted, frustrated and stressed.
The Negative Effects of Stress on Your Mind and Body
Chronic stress is bad news for your mental health and physical health. These are some health symptoms of stress:
If stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can lead to increased physical aging. This is because stress makes your cells look and act older – and this is reflected in your physical appearance.
In addition to the negative effects on your body, stress also has a significant influence on your brain – negatively impacting your daily performance.
I recommend you watch the 4-minute video below to see just how stress can wreak havoc on your brain and your performance:
How to Cope with Work Stress (A Step-By-Step Guide)
You don’t need to be a victim of work stress. Here’s how to manage stress in the workplace:
1. Set aside some time for planning
If work has become too much for you, and you’re constantly falling behind… stop! Instead of trying and failing to catch up, you’d be much better off spending some time thinking about your goals and how your prioritize your tasks.
For instance, if your initial goal is just to get on top of your work (probably for the first time in months), then take 10 minutes to think clearly and deeply about how you can achieve this. Most likely, you’ll be able to come up with tasks that you need to complete to reach your goal. And once your goal and tasks are clear in your mind, you’ll be ready for the second step.
2. Align your tasks with your goal
Just knowing your goal and associated tasks is not enough. Many people reach this stage but still fall behind with their work and fail to achieve their goals.
The secret is to understand which of your tasks should be high priority and which ones can be done when you have spare time.
For example, checking your inbox every 20 minutes may seem to be a productive task for you, but in reality it acts as a constant distraction and productivity killer. Instead, you’d be better off setting aside 30 minutes in the morning to check your emails and 30 minutes in the afternoon to do the same.
By doing this, you’ll free up the bulk of your day for tasks that can help you reach your goal. These tasks are likely to be things like: writing a business proposal, creating a PowerPoint presentation, and finishing an important project.
How to tackle specific work stressors? I recommend the following method that WellCast introduced:
Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top, write remove in the first column, change in the second and accept in the third.
Next, think of the stressors that are getting to you the most. Perhaps it’s your paycheck; it might be way smaller than you’d like or feel that you deserve. Don’t worry, this is your chance to break free from the stress surrounding your low pay.
To try to change your salary by asking for a pay rise
To accept that your salary is okay for you
You may be surprised at what thoughts come into your mind. Don’t reject them, but allow yourself time to be clear on how you’d like to proceed.
If the status quo feels good to you, then write “paycheck” in the accept column. If you decide you want to increase your salary but stay in the same company, write “paycheck” in the change column. And finally, if you decide the time is right to seek a new opportunity at a different organization, then write “paycheck” in the remove column.
By being decisive in this way, you’ll immediately feel freer and in control of your destiny. And your stress levels will begin to trend downwards. All that remains is to set yourself a clear goal of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do this.(Luckily, steps #1 and #2 above will help you out!)
Of course, if you have multiple work stressors, then use your remove, change or accept sheet to work through all of them. It will be time VERY well spent.
4. Create positive relationships at work
One key to improving your ability to manage stress is being able to accept help from others. Not only does it alleviate negative circumstances by simply distracting you and creating a buffer between daily tasks and their negative connection, it will provide a sense of support and relief.
Make an effort to create friendships with your colleagues. Go to the after-work happy hour or just ask a colleague out for coffee at lunchtime. Not only will you have someone to confide in, but you will start to associate positive feelings to work.
Forming a healthy relationship with your manager or supervisor is also a good way to alleviate stress. Positive, two-way conversations about where you stand in your job, being honest about how you feel, and working together to make a plan of action in terms of improved work conditions and expectations are paramount. This will lead to opening up and receiving the necessary resources you need to support or help you.
5. Take time out for yourself
Anyone can get overwhelmed when stress occurs at work, and this can spill into other areas of your life. This is why it’s important to clock out mentally from your job from time to time.
Take time off to relax and unwind in order to regain your energy and come back to work invigorated. Make sure you actually do something you enjoy like spending time with your kids or partner, or visit that country you’ve always wanted to explore.
If taking time off work isn’t possible in the midst of your stress, take scheduled breaks throughout your day. Sit quietly somewhere or do some stretches to get your blood flowing like in the example below:
6. Take mindful action towards your health
The irony of stress is that your healthy habits can take a backseat. Maintaining and even improving your health will keep your stress under control. Here are some ways to keep you physically fit:
Eat healthy foods. Make sure your diet is full of foods that provide your body with sufficient nutrients. Eat more fruits and green vegetables, whole foods, omega-3 rich fish, and seeds such as flax, chia and hemp. These types of food ensure your body is working optimally to cope with its stress mechanisms.
Avoid unhealthy foods. This is obvious, but it’s these kinds of food you reach for in times of stress and negativity. High fat foods such as cheese and red meat cause sluggishness and tiredness. Foods high in refined sugars like biscuits, chocolate bars, and bread can be convenient snacks, but they cause you to crash and burn. Same with caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas – these are just ‘band aid’ habits that interfere with your ability to sleep.
Exercise regularly. Endorphins are the best for counteracting stress, and what better way to release them than doing physical exercise. Exercise creates a distraction and helps you get your thoughts back together in an orderly way. Start a new exercise regime – whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or walking to work. Getting your blood and endorphins flowing will make you feel happier.
Everyone encounters stress at work. It’s a natural and normal human reaction. The difference between letting the stress overcome you and coping with it is getting a head start by creating a positive environment and lifestyle.
Counteracting stress is both an inside and outside job. Focusing on improving your health will create a positive mind able to react better. Forming positive relationships with certain people around you will give you emotional support.