Many of my clients are experiencing huge pressure from extreme levels of volume in their businesses.
That turns into longer workdays, more meetings and high job stresses – all while operating on a lighter staff than in the past.
Many others are experiencing financial stress, coupled with the uncertainties of how long the challenge will last.
Pay Attention to the Warning Signs of Stress
Both – if not handled in the right way – can cause you a great deal of discomfort: if you respond like a gerbil running in his wheel in a cage, you’ll find yourself frantically busy – but empty.
I love the saying:
“God will tap you on the shoulder, and tap you on the shoulder and tap you on the shoulder. And eventually, if you don’t pay attention, he will drop a piano on your head.”
Don’t wait for the piano to fall on your head.
Pay attention to the small taps and respond to what your body and your mind are telling you. Or else.
You might experience health issues, a car accident, relationship problems. Small warnings are gifts to let us know to take care of ourselves – or eventually we get the bigger wake up calls.
So, keep watch for those sometimes-subtle warning signs so that you can avoid a giant, unwelcome wake up call.
“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’ – Eckhart Tolle
Eek. How Did We Hit Such High Stress Levels?
In our quest for happiness, we continue to push and work through all the hard things in hopes we’ll see light at the end of the tunnel.
We tell ourselves:
- It will be running smoothly soon
- Someday, I can relax
- Eventually, I will take that vacation
- We’ll get ahead of all that is chasing us
But guess what?
There will always be the next thing. A new problem always arises. So we switch gears, pivot and move fast in the new direction.
Once we become accustomed to this way, we don’t stop so long as we continue the chase, the hustle, the quest.
This is not sustainable. No human can continue at that pace or with that “stay alive” operating system.
You say you can do it. That’s what so many of us tell ourselves. Why?
Rethinking the Hardcore “I can do it” Leadership Mindset
Because it is so much easier to reflect strength and a hard core ‘I can do it” attitude. That is why we are respected, right? That is what has defined us all along.
We think we need to continue to prove that we can. Or else, what do we have? Who would we be?
We need to re-think that mindset if we want to establish greater levels of stability, balance & fulfillment in our careers – and in our lives.
We can keep up the façade on the outside for much longer than we can on the inside.
On the inside, we want to feel the relief, the happiness, the pleasure so much that we seek it out in other ways. We find short term, false pleasures that help us cope and fool us into the escape of it.
Common pitfalls of escape include:
- Overuse of social media
- Overeating or excess drinking
- Porn and sex
- Addictive drugs and pain killers
- Excessive online shopping
Enjoying a few drinks, fun nights out, a shopping trip after a week of hard work are all part of life and the norm. It is only when these things get in the way of your life – when your other life’s goals are being sacrificed to make room for these things – that is when the line has been crossed for you.
Keep the End Zone in Sight to Reach Your Goals
Those short, dopamine hits we experience while trying to escape ourselves trick us into feeling the relief for a minute and keep us pushing forward.
But when we push forward, the stress and the pressure get bigger, greater. We need more relief from it to keep pushing.
This creates a vicious circle: We’re seeking our false pleasures, but they ultimately prevent us from having all that we really want and what really brings us peace, happiness and joy in our lives.
It’s like playing football.
To get in the end zone, you’ve got to head down the field to get your big reward – and face tackles and hits.
Sure, you can call time outs, throw out of bounds passes, but that only puts off your goal even more.
Professional football players don’t sign up for that. And your goal is no different.
It is Absolutely Possible to Regain Control
You have been working all your life and training for the day when you can use your skills to dodge the obstacles, think smart, consider your strategies, recover from any bumps, and get to the goal.
The path of drinking or eating more or extra online shopping will not get you there.
It might feel like a nice escape in the moment, but it may be taking you even further away from where you want to go.
You need to take back control again. Recognize what is happening and ask yourself:
- Is this decision aligned with my bigger goal?
- Is this just a temporary feel-good escape I think I need to get through another day?
- Does this get me closer to where I want to be in life…or further away?
If the answers point to a false pleasure, ask:
- How can I regain control of this again?
- What things can I change to work toward more happiness and peace each day, so I don’t need to escape?
- How can I love the life I have, so I don’t believe that I need an escape from it?
- How can I accept that this is part of the deal and begin to enjoy it again?
You Deserve to Live the Life You Most Envision. Really.
When we feel we need an escape from the life we have, we are doing something wrong. That is one of the taps on the shoulder.
Everything we have in our lives, we made a decision to have in our lives.
Eating more chocolate, drinking another bottle of wine, and running another 5 miles today will not change any of those things or improve anything at all.
You deserve to live the life you want and to choose exactly the path you want. You also deserve that tap on the shoulder to let you know when you are off course and need to relook at your direction again.
What is your mental health, sanity, sleep and balance worth? I want you to take a few moments out to really contemplate that. Especially in this last year, we’ve all been so overwhelmed with responsibilities, drastic changes, and overwhelming stress that it’s easy to feel like our goals are out of reach or have pivoted substantially.
Even if things have changed for you, remember that football analogy I gave you and don’t take your eyes off your goal. After all,
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” –Zig Ziglar
Please leave us any comments of what things help you cope with stress and live life to the fullest!
If you’re ready to embark on the ultimate journey to live your very best life as a leader & beyond, contact us today so we can chat.