“Stress is caused by being ‘here’, but wanting to be ‘there’.
– Eckhardt Tolle
All day long we face this kind of stress in our professional and personal lives. Everyone reading this will identify with it. High performers, however, don’t do stress so if that’s where you are heading it’s time to learn strategies to dissipate the stress you experience. This is just one of the ways that can help.
You want to get on with a particular project, but clients want you on the phone, or emails demand responses.
You wanted to have this new project operating by now, but it is still on the drawing board.
You need to be at that important meeting, but you are stuck here at work with a client who turned up unexpectedly.
You have a sick child at home and feel you should be there, but you have a meeting with an important client so have left your child with a generous neighbour.
You are getting great opportunities to advance your career, but you are struggling to balance it with your family commitments.
The result – stress, stress and more stress!
The answer is to get greater clarity between your negotiables and non-negotiables, to make them, and the reasons underpinning them, clear to all stakeholders and to consistently act on them.
What is non-negotiable in your life?
What is most important?
What aspects of your life are you not prepared to compromise on, no matter what?
What are the highest priorities in your life?
These may be things like:
- I will have a team meeting every week.
- I will meet every team member individually at least once a month.
- I will close my door for one hour every day, hold all phone calls and attend to my most important current work priority.
- I will turn off my phone once I get home at night for at least an hour and a half to allow me to spend time with my family.
- I will not allow any work activity to interfere with me celebrating the birthdays of my partner or my children.
- I will spend quality time with my partner every week.
What will be negotiable in your life?
What are you prepared to change around if you have to?
What can you compromise on without losing what’s important?
What can you let go of, stop doing, in other words, to free up some time?
These may be things like:
- If I need to be responsible for the children any morning, I will forego the gym on that day.
- I can miss the occasional meeting of Group X or Group Y.
- I don’t have to be at work at 8 a.m. every day. Some days I could delay getting there until 8.45 if I am more needed at home.
- I can take 4 weeks to complete this project D if necessary rather than place my team under excessive stress.
- I can decide to not take certain phone calls when they come in, but rather return them later.
- I can negotiate flexible work schedules for my team when requested.
Having clear negotiables and non-negotiables takes an enormous amount of stress out of your life. They give focus and clarity to how and where you spend your time.
So take some time after you read this, maybe instead of vege-ing out in front of television tonight, to clarify your negotiables and non-negotiables and then start living them out in both your personal and professional life.