If you want peak performance, plan to recover from stress
As the pressure mounts, that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach grows even stronger. Already snowed under with all those reports and deadlines, you’ve just found out there’s even more. You ‘ll end up spending the weekend finalising the figures & catching up on emails. Again. Breaking promises to spend family time with the kids. Again. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. There just doesn’t seem to be any way to recover from stress.
All my life, I was taught (or so I thought), to suck it up. Stress was a test of strength and determination. Character’s forged in adversity and in the absence of actual battle, the workplace has become the gladiatorial arena.
There’s something about negative stress that seems to spawn trite sayings:
- What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
- If you’re knocked down get back up again
- Never give up
- Keep soldiering on
- Hard work never killed anyone
- When the going gets tough, the tough get going (thanks Lionel)
- Boys don’t cry (one for Cure fans)
There are loads more – feel free to chuck them into the comments box below. I’d love to hear them.
Meanwhile back at work.
There’s often an unwritten expectation that you get in early & stay late. Work weekends. Work comes first. Family comes a poor second. Anything less and your career’s in jeopardy.
Think about it. How often do you actually take an hour for lunch? I mean an actual lunch break. No work. No phone calls or emails, no discussion with colleagues. Not sat at your desk. If it’s anything like my previous incarnation as a Chartered Financial Planner, it was a pretty rare event.
When was the last time you saw a colleague sitting at their desk, eyes closed, feet up, humming along to a Spotify playlist? What would you think? How would you feel? Angry? Jealous? Confused?
I did come across it once. I thought they were taking the p**s, to be honest.
In our determination to stay effective, it’s custom & practice to keep your energy levels high. Keep up a high work-rate, no matter what. This creates a time-bomb when it comes to managing stress.
Don’t mistake effort for performance.
You keep using your reserves and your reserves are running out ‘cos you don’t top them up. Sooner or later you’ll call on them and there’ll be nothing left. That’s a sure-fire recipe for burnout.
The good news is, handled in the right way, stress can be a powerful motivator, instead of a silent killer.
And it doesn’t take much of a mindset shift.
Try this on for size:
- Your energy levels can be high, low or somewhere in between.
- Your energy state can vary from positive to negative
- Peak performance happens when you’ve got high levels of positive energy
- So, to maintain peak performance, you need to keep finding high levels of positive energy.
Traditionally, we try to maintain performance by only keeping up high energy levels, irrespective of whether it’s positive or negative. We use up all the positive energy, leaving only negative energy. This’ll just move you into survival mode, where you have to fight to keep up your output. Eventually even your negative energy gets used up and burnout rears its ugly head.
When there’s nothing left, there’s nowhere else to go.
So what’s the trick?
Simple. Make damn sure you build in some deliberate recovery time.
However long or short it may be, take planned time out to recover. This is the only way you’ll have the reserves you need to maintain positive energy.
Instead of swapping from positive energy to negative energy, deliberately shift from high energy to low energy. You get to keep the positivity.
Eventually, you’ll find a combination of recovery techniques that allows you to keep that high performance mode running forever.
Clients who get to try this out are astounded by how much more they achieve whilst actually working less. Don’t try to do it all at once. Experiment. Start with a short lunch break away from your desk. Maybe schedule 10 minutes in between meetings. Take a walk to get a coffee & drink it away from your desk.
Aim to find 20 minutes a day. Then maybe 30, or 40 minutes, even an hour. Create a stop time for emails in the evening. Build work-free time zones into the weekend.
Before you know it, you’ll be doing more with less. Working smarter not harder. Tuning into all those other sayings that feed a more efficient way of being.
Let me know how you get on. Feel free to ask anything you want, I’ll be pleased to help.