It’s no secret that today’s work environment is stressful. With our current economy, labor force, and global supply chain, it’s not been easy. Businesses are dealing with an overload of responsibilities, and we are all feeling pinched to succeed. Customers are getting more and more impatient. Leaders are navigating through employee burnout, disengagement, anxiety, and dissatisfaction. And it’s no wonder. We’re expected to be always “on” with 24/7 emails, phone calls, instant messages, texts, meeting invites, pop-ins, and reminders. Everyone’s multi-tasking, and it feels impossible to stay on track or in the moment. Some would say that working at a fast pace is good for us. And maybe stress can push things to happen. But constant distractions and negative attitudes will take control if we let them. I believe the key to success is how we prepare for inevitable stressors.
As an athlete, I know what it’s like to push myself physically — often for many hours. But, for optimal long-term performance, I can’t go at full speed all the time. To avoid injury and fatigue, I prepare for each workout or race. The course will change, problems will arise, and obstacles will come and go. Once I’m able to identify possible stressors for a particular event, I can plan, prioritize, and move toward my goals. So, when the weather turns or my knee aches, I will have a plan on how to navigate through and keep momentum going at a healthy cadence. If I start stressing out about the multitude of problems that could occur at the same time, I will get overwhelmed. But if I train appropriately, map out the course, and maintain good nutrition, I can successfully move through variable conditions. And I might even be able to check out the scenery along the way.
“We spend over 80,000 hours at work in our lifetime. So, how can we spend our time at work more deliberately with less stress?”
Similarly at the office, we go through our days pushing to do more and more. We live in a culture where being busy feels good. And I admit that it is sometimes easier (and more efficient) to do things myself rather than delegate. Sure, healthy stress can help drive performance, but it’s not sustainable to take on too much all the time. Before I know it, my days are full of reacting to this or that. Stress happens when we feel that we can’t manage or control a situation. And unfortunately, that is a common feeling at work, where according to the Gallup report, we spend over 80,000 hours in our lifetime. So, how can we spend our time at work more deliberately with less stress? Many of our stressors are recurring and can be anticipated. So, be ready for them!
In today’s hustle culture, stress is all around us. We are taking on more work, and we’re trying to do more with less. But it is possible to succeed as a healthy company while stress occupies our workspace. I know that success is not something that just happens. To get where you want to go, it can be a long, uncomfortable journey full of doubt and struggle. And it’s not so much about the amount of work done. Rather it’s the intention of doing a job well within a team that cares about the work. Your end goal might be to make top five in a race, or to offer a new product, or to win the customer. If you can just “be” in the moment and make the work meaningful, it will show. And the next time a disgruntled customer calls, you’ll be ready to turn things around.