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Sources of Negative Stress: New Year Expectations

Stress of New Year Expectations

New Year: Make it Happen

The New Year is always full of expectations.  One week into the New Year and I am noticing three things:

  • One person is completely fired up and wants to leverage this focus and energy to get her year off to a great start – she’s sick of the excuses she had throughout the last year
  • Several who started with very good intentions which have already fallen by the wayside in the face of competing demands
  • Several more who have started the year overwhelmed and not sure where to start

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Sources of Negative Stress: Perfectionism

Perfectionism is StressfulYou may say that it’s good to have standards.  And I would agree:  taking pride in your work is a reflection of you and your business.  With competition fierce, you want to make sure that you are showing the level of quality you bring whether as an individual or a business.

However, if perfectionism becomes your tyrant, it can be your biggest source of stress and so can undo much of the good work you are trying to achieve, because when we get too stressed, performance suffers.

It’s important to remember that perfectionism is not a human condition.  It is, though, a direction to aim for.  And if perfectionism has become your tormentor, it may actually impede results. I have clients whose perfectionism stops them from finishing anything for fear of a mistake being discovered; or even starting something in case they can’t live up to their own ideals.  Or it may be that they are working in a blame culture which can have a toxic impact throughout the organisation.

Perfectionism and Procrastination

Perfectionism can be a key factor in procrastination and most people can’t afford the delays which come with it.  Is it better that a deadline is met, an outcome achieved, or that results wait as perfection is honed?

Perfectionism and Fear of Failure

If the issue is fear of failure, understand that avoidance feeds into the fear so you feel more stuck and helpless each time you give in to it.  The longer it goes on, the more entrenched the behaviour is.  I don’t think I have ever seen a constructive partnership between fear of failure and perfectionism in all the years I’ve been coaching – it’s a bit like having your foot on the brakes and the accelerator at the time – so it’s a important issue to address before the consequences catch up with you.

Mistakes and Attitude

It isn’t the making of mistakes which is important but what you do about it afterwards.  From my own experience, my biggest loyalty and respect goes to those people/businesses who made a mistake but did a really good job of remedying it – especially their attitude about it.  If they take the ‘It wasn’t my fault’ approach, that does nothing to build loyalty or confidence in them.  In addition, blame culture cripples creativity and growth.

Improve and Evolve

Mistakes are our best teacher – it’s the best way to improve your skills and your processes, if you use it as an opportunity.

What is Good Enough?

For most situations the 80/20 rule works well:  80% good enough is good enough.  Usually the 20% doesn’t have a significant bearing on the results of an endeavour.  So, when perfectionism is causing you to take too long, miss deadlines or even opportunities, consider the cost of that 20% versus the result it would have given you. Better that something is done 80% well than not done at all in the majority of situations.

A Final Word on Perfectionism

Look on perfection as a direction rather than a despot.  Learn how to manage expectations and disappointments and use mistakes to help you develop.  Then, step by step, you will evolve your skills, increase your confidence, and lower your stress.

To your success.

 

 

 

© Tricia Woolfrey

 

PS  If you still feel perfectionism is driving you and you want to know how to manage yourself and others around this subject, do call for support.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Sources of Stress: Fears about the future

Stress: Fear about the future

 

Stress.  In our VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), it is no wonder that fears about the future are high at the moment.  And, let’s face it, what’s more stressful than fear?

There is so much to think about, so much which is uncertain and unclear, and the risks are bigger than ever, so your stress levels can be sky-high.

But as the saying goes, it is what it is.  The ability to accept reality, without losing sight of vision, hope and motivation are key components.  And that’s easy for me to say, I know.  So, how do you do that?

Here is my 9-Point Plan to help you:

 

 

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How is Your Mental Health?

World Mental Health Day and Stress

It’s World Mental Health Day until the 10th  and I thought I would give you a heads up as a part of my Causes of Stress series.  Since my work revolves around performance, productivity, stress resilience and health and energy, mental health is at the centre of it all so it is a good time to reflect on it and to share with you something to help make sure that yours is optimal.

You see, we all have mental health.  The question is not whether you have it but in what condition it’s in.  Would you describe yours as Optimal?  Functional?  Variable?  Or On the Floor?  There are three main components to mental ill-health:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Of course, it isn’t as simple as that but it’s a really good start.  There will be times when you feel you can do anything, but there will be times when you do feel stressed, depressed or anxious and each day feels like you’re wading through treacle, with weights on your ankles and a monkey on your back.

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Sources of Negative Stress: Regrets

Stress, regrets and hindsightIf you are living with regrets, it can feel as though the past is ever-present, tarnishing what is good and holding you back.   Yes, regrets can be stressful.  They can certainly keep you awake at night.  They can also affect how you manage, and engage in, your daily life.

Regrets can be for something you did which you shouldn’t have or something you should have done which you didn’t.

In the moment that you do something (or decide not to), you do so with our best thinking at the time.   As someone

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Is there a Gap Between your Responsibilities and Skills?

Gap between responsibilties and skillsWe all know that it’s tougher now than it’s ever been with more demands and fewer resources and with competition stronger* than it’s ever been.

This means that those at the top, under pressure to achieve, have bigger and bigger expectations of those they manage.  If they don’t they’ll be out on their ear with the mortgage to pay and food to put on the table.

This in turn often means that people may be given more responsibility than their skills are equipped for.  But if you too are in fear of losing your job, you just keep on keeping on, feeling less and less confident, with your results not matching your own expectations, never mind anyone else’s.

Now, if that doesn’t cause stress, I don’t know what does.

But what to do about it?  It’s not the easiest one to manage but here are some ideas:

  • Make a list of the skills you do have, and your strengths. These are providing you more support than you realise.  So, it’s important to bring them to front of mind so you can exploit them.
  • Make a list of where your skills are falling short. How is it impacting your work?  Are there any of your strengths that can fill in the gap?  For example, if negotiating isn’t one of your strengths, but you are creative, allow your creative part to come up with some approaches next time the need arises.  It’s usually when we are up close and personal with a problem that the solution seems to elude us.  When you think in advance, your mind has time and space to think of suitable solutions without the pressure of the moment.
  • Learn from a colleague. We all have different strengths.  What you lack someone else will have.  And vice-versa.  Learn from each other.
  • Ask yourself “what would so-and-so do in this situation?” It’s amazing how your mind can deliver an answer that, at a conscious level, you didn’t know you knew.  But this question helps bring it into conscious awareness.
  • Challenge limiting beliefs. “I can’t” is a belief system.  I too often tell myself that I can’t do technology.  But if I give myself the time and space, I can work it out.  I am just impatient about learning it.  So my beliefs (and patience) get in the way.  I can do technology!
  • Practice, practice, practice. It’s boring but true.  Just because you can’t do something now, doesn’t mean that you will never be able to do it.  If you think about your ability to walk.  That came from thousands of attempts as a toddler when you fell down and got up again.  So it is with skill-building.  As a toddler you learned lots of ways to refine the skill and developing the right muscles, and now you don’t have to think about which foot you are using next and how to apply it.  It’s the same as learning any skill.
  • Ask for a role which plays to your strengths. This may or may not be available, so you’d need to be aware of options open to you and build a solid case as to why you should be given that opportunity.  Or find a new one elsewhere.
  • Finally, if you need training (or coaching), ask for it. Of course these cost money, but if you do a business case for it showing how much more value you could bring to your role for this comparatively small investment, versus the cost of hiring that skill in and all the downtime (and risk) associated with a new employee, training – and coaching – are really good investments.

I hope this article has given you some options about bridging the gap between your role and your skills.  As always, if you would like further help – whether it is identifying the skills you need or helping you build them –  do feel free to call me on 0834 130 0854.  You’ll be glad you did.

*By stronger I mean more prolific.  Everyone has a similar struggle so it’s how you deal with it that really matters.

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The Stress of Keeping Up Appearances

The Stress of Keeping Up AppearancesThis is the second article in the Sources of Negative Stress series and, in the light of the tragic suicide of the gifted and successful designer, Kate Spade, I thought it would be timely to talk about the stress of keeping up appearances.

Struggling alone

Early reports say that Kate Spade was unwilling to risk the public discovering her depression if she sought help, so she struggled alone, self-medicating with alcohol. The problem when we self-medicate is that it doesn’t help us deal with the underlying problem – it simply masks it. The underlying problem just festers and festers until you implode, or seek the right kind of help.

The burden of trying to keep up appearances could not be heavier, or the consequences worse. The façade of the perfect life, perfect business, perfect relationship is just too much for anyone to sustain.   And the price is just too high.  

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Sources of Stress: Overwhelm

OverwhelmWho doesn’t experience overwhelm sometimes?  Although it doesn’t happen to me often, when it does, it is as though I am driving in first gear, without my Satnav and only brain fog for company.  It is a sign I have left things too long and I need to start taking control now, if not sooner.  Is this something you recognise in your life?

If only we could have demands, duties and deadlines flow in at exactly our preferred work rate.  Enough to keep us engaged and feeling productive.  But not so much that the stress of it damages our results and sense of worth.

But this is the real world.  We can rarely control the amount of work and demands we experience, but we can control our response to them so that we feel more productive, more empowered and less stressed.  In this article, I share my top ten:  ones I use with my clients and also on myself when overwhelm strikes.

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Have you had enough yet?

Have you had enough yet? Avoid burnout and breakdown.Are you the kind of person who just gets on with it?  You think you can do no more but, here you are, doing more?

You know you need to make changes, but it never seems to be the right time.  And you don’t have time to make it happen anyway, what with everything else that’s going on.

Well, you may not know it, but you are a member of The Keep Going and Ignore the Risks Club.

 

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