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- 1. Have self-compassion
- 2. Remember the “Big Picture.”
- 3. Rely on routines
- 4. Take five (or ten) minutes to do something you find interesting
- 5. Add where and when to your to-do list. Do you have a to-do list?
- 6. Use if-then for positive self-talk
- 7. See your work in terms of progress, not perfection
- 8. Think about the progress that you’ve already made
- 9. Know whether optimism or defensive pessimism works for you
Feeling stressed yet?
This is been a challenging year hasn’t it, I guess everyone is stressed in one way or another and this year will have more that it’s fair share of challenges.
It is more or less impossible not to experience bouts of stress at some time.
The difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t is not whether or not you suffer from stress, but how you deal with it when you do.
Harvard Business Review recently ran an article on how successful people defeat stress.
While it really deals with business, your business is property investment, isn’t it?
So here’s what they had to say:
1. Have self-compassion
Self-compassion is, in essence, cutting yourself some slack.
It’s being willing to look at your mistakes or failures with kindness and understanding — without harsh criticism or defensiveness.
Studies show that people who are self-compassionate are happier, more optimistic, and less anxious and depressed.
That’s probably not surprising.
But here’s the kicker: they are more successful, too.
Most of us believe that we need to be hard on ourselves to perform at our best, but it turns out that’s 100 percent wrong.
So remember that to err is human, and give yourself a break.
2. Remember the “Big Picture.”
Anything you need or want to do can be thought of in more than one way.
Thinking Big Picture about the work you do can be very energizing in the face of stress and challenge, because you are linking one particular, often small action to a greater meaning or purpose.
3. Rely on routines
If I ask you to name the major causes of stress in your work life, you would probably say things like deadlines, a heavy workload, bureaucracy, or your terrible boss.
You probably wouldn’t say “having to make so many decisions,” because most people aren’t aware that this is a powerful and pervasive cause of stress in their lives.
Every time you make a decision — whether it’s about hiring a new employee, about when to schedule a meeting with your supervisor, or about choosing rye or whole wheat for your egg salad sandwich — you create a state of mental tension that is, in fact, stressful.
(This is why shopping is so exhausting — it’s not the horrible concrete floors, it’s all that deciding.)
The solution is to reduce the number of decisions you need to make by using routines.
If there’s something you need to do every day, do it at the same time every day.
Have a routine for preparing for your day in the morning, and packing up to go home at night.
Simple routines can dramatically reduce your experience of stress.
In fact, former President, Obama, who assuredly knows a great deal about stress, mentioned using this strategy himself in a interview:
You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day… You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make. You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia. –President Obama, Vanity Fair
4. Take five (or ten) minutes to do something you find interesting
If there were something you could add to your car’s engine, so that after driving it a hundred miles, you’d end up with more gas in the tank than you started with, wouldn’t you use it?
There is something you can do for yourself that will have the same effect… doing something interesting. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it interests you.
Recent research shows that interest doesn’t just keep you going despite fatigue, it actually replenishes your energy. And then that replenished energy flows into whatever you do next.
5. Add where and when to your to-do list. Do you have a to-do list?
(If you have a “Task” bar on the side of your calendar, and you use it, then the answer is “yes.”)
And do you find that a day or a week (or sometimes longer) will frequently pass by without a single item getting checked off?
Stressful, isn’t it?
What you need is a way to get the things done that you set out to do in a timely manner.
What you need is if-then planning.
This particular form of planning is a really powerful way to help you achieve any goal.
Nearly 200 studies, on everything from diet and exercise to negotiation and time management, have shown that deciding in advance when and where you will complete a task (e.g., “If it is 4pm, then I will return any phone calls I should return today”) can double or triple your chances of actually doing it.
So take the tasks on your to-do list, and add a specific when and where to each.
6. Use if-then for positive self-talk
Another way to combat stress using if-then plans is to direct them at the experience of stress itself, rather than at its causes.
Recent studies show that if-then plans can help us to control our emotional responses to situations in which we feel fear, sadness, fatigue, self-doubt, or even disgust.
Simply decide what kind of response you would like to have instead of feeling stressed, and make a plan that links your desired response to the situations that tend to raise your blood pressure.
For instance, “If I see lots of emails in my Inbox, then I will stay calm and relaxed,” or, “If a deadline is approaching, then I will keep a cool head.”
7. See your work in terms of progress, not perfection
We all approach the goals we pursue with one of two mindsets: what I call the Be-Good mindset, where the focus is on proving that you have a lot of ability and that you already know what you’re doing, and the Get-Better mindset, where the focus is on developing your ability and learning new skills.
You can think of it as the difference between wanting to show that you are smart versus wanting to get smarter.
When you have a Be-Good mindset, you expect to be able to do everything perfectly right out of the gate, and you constantly (often unconsciously) compare yourself to other people, to see how you “size up.”
You quickly start to doubt your ability when things don’t go smoothly, and this creates a lot of stress and anxiety.
Ironically, worrying about your ability makes you much more likely to ultimately fail.
A Get-Better mindset, on the other hand, leads instead to self-comparison and a concern with making progress — how well are you doing today, compared with how you did yesterday, last month, or last year?
When you think about what you are doing in terms of learning and improving, accepting that you may make some mistakes along the way, you experience far less stress, and you stay motivated despite the setbacks that might occur.
8. Think about the progress that you’ve already made
“Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.”
This is what Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer refer to as the Progress Principle — the idea is that it’s the “small wins” that keep us going, particularly in the face of stressors.
Psychologically, it’s often not whether we’ve reached our goal, but the rate at which we are closing the gap between where we are now and where we want to end up that determines how we feel.
It can be enormously helpful to take a moment and reflect on what you’ve accomplished so far before turning your attention to the challenges that remain ahead.
9. Know whether optimism or defensive pessimism works for you
For many of us, it’s hard to stay positive when we’ve got assignments up to our eyeballs.
For others, it isn’t just hard — it feels wrong.
And as it turns out, they are perfectly correct — optimism doesn’t work for them.
It is stressful enough to try to juggle as many projects and goals as we do, but we add a layer of stress without realizing it when we try to reach them using strategies that don’t feel right — that don’t mesh with our own motivational style.
So what’s your motivational style, and is “staying positive” right for you?
Some people think of their jobs as opportunities for achievement and accomplishment — they have what psychologists call a promotion focus.
In the language of economics, promotion focus is all about maximizing gains and avoiding missed opportunities.
For others, doing a job well is about security, about not losing the positions they’ve worked so hard for.
This prevention focus places the emphasis on avoiding danger, fulfilling responsibilities, and doing what feel you ought to do.
In economic terms, it’s about minimizing losses, trying to hang on to what you’ve got.
Understanding promotion and prevention motivation helps us understand why people can work so differently to reach the same goal.
Promotion motivation feels like eagerness — the desire to really go for it — and this eagerness is sustained and enhanced by optimism.
Believing that everything is going to work out great is essential for promotion-focused performance.
Prevention motivation, on the other hand, feels like vigilance — the need to keep danger at bay — and it is sustained not by optimism, but by a kind of defensive pessimism.
In other words, the prevention-minded actually work best when they think about what might go wrong, and what they can do to keep that from happening.
So, do you spend your life pursuing accomplishments and accolades, reaching for the stars?
Or are you busy fulfilling your duties and responsibilities — being the person everyone can count on?
Start by identifying your focus, and then embrace either the sunny outlook or the hearty skepticism that will reduce your stress and keep you performing at your best.
Put some or all of these strategies for fighting stress, and you will see real changes not only in the workplace but in every area of your life.
Read the full article at Harvard Business Review
ALSO READ: Why is Success So Hard?
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