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Sources of Negative Stress – High Targets

How to Deal with the Stress of High TargetsIn the latest in the series of Sources of Negative Stress we are going to address the thorny issue of high targets.

Targets are a useful way to focus the mind and channel your efforts towards an intended goal.  In some ways it can take the pressure off:  if you are juggling too many demands it helps you to concentrate on one, unimpeded.  There is a freedom in that, as long as you are able to ‘let go’ of, reschedule, or delegate the rest.  Otherwise, it is just stress, stress, stress.

But if the target is overwhelmingly high, it can trigger the fight-flight-freeze response .  Though these are a natural reaction to stress, they don’t solve the problem and would likely make it worse.  How?  Here are some examples together with ten strategies to help you:


  1. Argue with the boss about the unreasonableness of the target. This rarely works out well.
  2. Take it out on the cat when you get home. Though this may discharge some frustration, it does nothing about the target and may add some guilt into an already stressful situation


  1. Leave your job in the hope you find another with lower targets. However, you have no guarantee that you aren’t signing up to a whole set of new problems by doing this.
  2. Succumb to illness such as a migraine, or IBS, etc necessitating time out and away from the pressure. Illness is a natural response to stress.  While you should always take care of your health, if you find that you are always ill when you feel overwhelmed, it is important to address the stressor directly, otherwise you will find yourself taking more and more time off.  Or, if you don’t take time off when you’re ill, find that your performance is significantly impacted by the illness, making both your health and your performance suffer as a consequence.


  1. You’ve heard the phrase ‘like a rabbit stuck in the headlights’? Well it can be like that sometimes, where you feel paralysed and so fail to take any steps towards your goal.

So, what can you do?  Here are 10 suggestions:

  1. Split the target into manageable chunks
  2. Work on ‘low-hanging fruit’: those easy wins
  3. Negotiate a smaller, or different, target
  4. Negotiate more time
  5. Delegate what you can
  6. Virtualise (this isn’t a typo): Imagine your success – what you can see, hear and feel as you achieve it.  And, best of all, imagine yourself receiving the benefits of it.  This trains the mind to harness efforts into achievement rather than get bogged down in the impossibility of it.
  7. Balance your blood sugar and energy as this affects your ability to function at your best (read Ultimate Energy:  From Tired to Inspired)
  8. Make sure you have quality sleep and rest: you need your stamina and for your mind to function at its best.
  9. Look for ways to optimise your time and productivity: there are nearly always ways in which improvements can be made
  10. Celebrate successes along the way. It’s easy to beat yourself up for what hasn’t been achieved, but by remembering what you have achieved, you are increasing your sense of effectiveness and confidence which can only boost your results.

If you feel you need any help in any of these areas, do feel free to call on 0345 130 0854.  You don’t have to do it alone.

To your success.