When you’re feeling under intense pressure, it’s difficult to imagine how on earth you can break out of the stressful cycle you’re caught up in. The more stressed you become, the more difficult it is to get motivated; and the more difficult it is to get motivated, the more stressed you become.
But there’s a way to break out of this destructive cycle.
You can re-charge your motivation and relieve your stress by asking three simple questions about your current situation and what you’re doing:
- Why am I doing this?
- What should I do more (or less) of?
- How should I deal with this?
Why Am I Doing This?
When you’re feeling stressed out, you often lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing. You become so engrossed in the day-to-day problems you ‘forget’ what it’s really for. All you can see are the problems and not the end result.
So whether you’re working to support your family and provide them with a lovely home, re-training to take up a career of your choice, changing your diet to lose 30lbs in weight, setting up your own business so you can offer excellent customer service or devoting your life to a worthy cause, just remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Think of it as your big dream. When you’ve got clarity about your reason for being, it gets you out of bed in the morning, it re-energizes you, and it helps you see the problems that come your way as challenges to overcome not show-stoppers that bog you down. Most important, it motivates you and keeps you moving forward in spite of all the challenges, so that little by little you move closer to achieving what you’ve set your heart on.
And as this happens, the problems don’t seem so bad and you start to release the stress in your life.
Write Down Your Life Purpose
It may be obvious to you what your true purpose is, but if not, take some time to think it through. Remember, it must be something big, something you want so much that it drives you forward and it must be something that you want and not what someone else expects of you.
It helps to write down your life purpose, because this gives you clarity and re-enforces your commitment when the going gets tough. Then, you must re-read it every day, if possible, out loud with all the feeling and excitement you can muster.
Ideally, write your purpose on a card that you can keep in your purse or wallet, so that every time you open it up, you see the card and it jogs your memory and re-enforces your commitment.
What’s more, visualize yourself as having achieved your purpose in life. And as you do, feel the pleasure and excitement that comes from having achieved your dream. If you’re having problems visualizing what it’s like in your mind’s eye, find a photograph or picture that you can carry with you that helps you get in the zone.
The more you can focus on where you want to be and why you’re doing what you’re doing right now, the more you re-charge your motivation and release pent up tension.
What Should I Do More (or Less) of?
Once you’re clear about your purpose in life, you then need to take a look at what you’re doing on a daily or weekly basis and ask yourself if it’s leading you in the direction you want to go.
What you’re aiming to do here is make the right sort of choices and spend as much time as possible on activities that are going to move you closer to fulfilling your dream. The more you concentrate on doing what you need to do to take you to where you want to
be, the more motivated and less stressed you become.
This means that if problems crop up along the way, as they’re likely to do, they’re easier to deal with because you’re inspired to find a solution.
So, does your job allow you to support your family in the way you would like? Is your training course the right one to allow a career change? Are you making the best diet choices to help lose those 30lbs? Are you prioritizing the right activities in your new business set-up? Is your time and money being spent in a way that really benefits the worthy cause you’re supporting?
In asking these questions – or ones that are relevant to you – identify the choices and activities that are going to move you closer to achieving your dream.
Focus on What You’re Good At
As much as possible, spend your time doing what you’re good at. By playing to your strengths, you’re more likely to enjoy your day and do what you do well…with the added bonus that you super-charge your motivation and minimize your stress levels.
If you identify something that needs to be done, which is not one of your core strengths, try and enlist the help of someone who does have that skill.
Motivation guru, Brian Tracy, suggests asking yourself the question: is there anything that I’m doing today that given what I now know, I wouldn’t get into again? If so, then he recommends that you get out as quickly as possible.
There is great wisdom in Tracy’s recommendation, because whether it’s a job, a relationship, a sport or any other commitment, if it’s not right for you, it only drags you backwards and notches up your stress level. For many reasons, it may not be possible to exit the situation immediately, but if in your heart of hearts you know it’s not right for you, then you need to look for ways of moving on.
How Should I Deal with This?
When you’re feeling overwhelmed day after day, it’s often caused by a couple of issues:
Either, you have so much to do, you literally don’t know where to begin.
Or, you have one huge problem (or a succession of smaller problems) that seem to dominate your life.
Start by making a list of everything you have to do. Don’t be put off by the fear that the list may end up being so long, it will make you feel even worse. It won’t.
When everything goes down on your list, it puts you back in control, because you know what has to be done. You also know that when it’s on your list, it won’t be overlooked and you won’t spend time worrying that you might forget something. The spin-off is that you get a tremendous sense of relief.
The next step is to prioritize the order in which you carry out your various tasks and activities. Life being what it is, there will be far more things on your list than you can ever hope to get through, so you need a system for deciding what you’re going to focus on.
I recommend using Stephen Covey’s Important-Urgent Matrix (see Resources), because it helps you identify the things you must do, the things you should do, the things you can delegate and the things you can ignore altogether.
As you become adept at using this system, both your motivation and wellbeing get a boost. You gradually realize that there are many things you can either ignore or delegate with the result that your list of tasks gets shorter and more manageable, giving you the motivation to focus on the things that really matter.
Get a Personal Organizer
If you don’t already have a personal organizer, I suggest getting one. It doesn’t matter if it’s digital or paper based, just make sure that it has sections which show the year, the month, the week, the day and (ideally) the hour. This allows you to take your big goals for the year, and then break them down into sub-goals (month), activities and tasks (week) and ultimately a to-do list (day). In this way, you can make sure that your day-to-day activities are in line with your big dream or life purpose.