An Alternative View of Stress

My friend, colleague, and client Ron FitzGerald shared his thoughts on stress after reading my I know all about stressed its ‘DESSERTS’ spell backwards!!! post.

Are you ready for the definition of personal STRESS?  Here it is…   Personal stress is caused by not knowing what to do in a given situation.  That is all.  There is nothing more to it.  Simple, isn’t it?

You may believe you know what the right thing to do is, you may believe you know what the socially acceptable thing is, and you may believe that you know the easiest thing to do, but, you sometimes fight within yourself to know “what do I do now?”

Decisions, decisions… how you determine between the “easiest”, the “right”, and the “acceptable” is what creates stress.   Learning to make decisions of this nature easier to decide will lessen your stress.

We all want to believe we will do the “right” thing every time… But that is a very simplistic view point and not actually realistic.   What is “right”?   Does being right mean the same as being legal?   Does being right mean acting in accordance to one’s own faith?  Does being right mean doing something which may be harmful to another person?  Now I don’t want to sound like a lawyer, in fact I’d like to keep this as simple as possible, but still explore the reality behind the decision, in real people words.

You have to ask yourself a few questions in order to make good low stress decisions.

  1. Is this really my decision to make?   If not, then put it out of your mind, do not deny someone else the choice opportunity to deal with the situation on their own.
  2. Do I have enough information to make this decision?  If not, then make the inquiries necessary, or schedule yourself to deal with this situation once all the information is at hand, but don’t try to deal with it unless you have all the info. Clear it from your mind until you have the info to deal with it properly.
  3. WHAT ARE MY PRIORITIES? What is my most desired outcome from this decision?    If you cannot state in simple terms what you want the best outcome to be, then perhaps it’s not your decision to make, or perhaps you do not have enough information.  (See steps 2 or 3 above)

You didn’t think it was going to be that easy did you?  Now we throw in the mother of all monkey wrenches.  What if you have got to make a decision RIGHT NOW?  LACK OF TIME is the force multiplier for creating stress.

Sometimes you do not have the time to go get more information, you do not have the time to sit and learn all the points about all the variables.  What then?  Here’s a secret…   the best decisions are those decisions which keep doors open, never close an option unless you must.  Don’t dither, don’t dodge it, make a solid decision, but try to keep other options in view.  Not all of our decisions are going to be right, face it; you will make an occasional mistake.  It’s a nice stress reliever to know that if needed, you can step back, click your heels, and head out on another path.  One more thing.. once you’ve made a decision, and things are moving along.. PUT IT BEHIND YOU.  Unless there is strong reason to go back and recheck other options, MOVE ALONG to other fun stuff.

Let’s recap.

  1. Stress is brought about by having to make decisions, on our own issues, or those thrust upon us.
  2. Learn to know what is RIGHT in a given situation. Learn to easily determine 3 things:  A) Is it my decision to make, B) do you have enough info?  C) What are my priorities? What is the best outcome?
  3. TIME!!  Don’t dodge.  Don’t fudge.  Make a real decision, but… keep 2nd and 3rd, etc… options open if you can. You will make a mistake now and then, nice to be able to correct them.
  4. Once it’s done, Move along.

I hope this helps.

I know all about stressed its ‘DESSERTS’ spell backwards!!!

Some of you may know that I don’t believe in coincidence – which is why when I saw “I know all about stressed its ‘DESSERTS’ spell backwards!!!” this morning I figured there was a reason.

No, not that I was going to have desert for breakfast… well maybe a Christmas cookie or two for good measure.

Rather that in sales (perhaps even in life) stress can be a good thing OR a bad thing. A good thing you ask?

Stress is a force exerted by pressing, pulling, pushing, compressing, or twisting. Newton’s First Law of Motion is the one that says ‘a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it….’ True of both things and people (if you don’t believe me, how difficult is it to get up off the couch once you’ve sat down and turned on the tv?).

Which brings us to the GOOD THING about stress; without a little of it pushing us to move, we wouldn’t accomplish anything. The stress we put on ourselves to meet our goals, the stress our managers put on us to achieve what is expected of us at work, the stress our team puts on us to win – all good stuff.

Three GOOD Stress Tips:

  1. Understand the motivation behind the stress, smile & get going
  2. Recognize the kick in the pants and keep the momentum going
  3. Make sure the activity moves you forward toward your goal

The BAD THING is when the stress turns into overwhelm. Instead of pushing us to move – we are pushed into a corner, unable to decide what to do… we do nothing. That is a cycle that turns into a downward spiral… more stress/more overwhelm/more doing nothing = more stress/more overwhelm/more doing nothing = more stress/more overwhelm/more doing nothing . You get the idea (you’ve probably been there)!

Three BAD Stress Tips:

  1. Write down what you need to get done & prioritize
  2. Do ONE little thing that helps you move forward
  3. Keep doing little things and the big things will get done

Now go do something! Then have dessert.