That weighed-down feeling, being overwhelmed with challenges on the job, not having enough hours to tackle time-sensitive projects, and waking up the next day to do it all over again – these are all factors that compete with optimal job performance. However, you don’t have to repeat one stressful day after another. With the right approach, you can eliminate the pressure of meeting deadlines, reaching job performance goals, and successfully leading your team – without the side effects of job stress.
Demand on executives
It’s hard to perform on the job – and ensure career advancement – when stressors compete for your energy. When you’re tired, overwhelmed or feeling like you can’t sustain under the pressures of your job, stress rears its ugly head – a force with which to be reckoned. The American Institute of Stress cites four primary reasons for workplace stress: workload (46%), people issues (28%), work/life balance (20%) and job insecurity (6%).
It’s evident that workplace stress is a problem, and typical stress management advice isn’t helping. There is a way, however, to counter the seemingly insurmountable stress that blindsides you every day: think of yourself as a corporate athlete.
A new way to manage stress
Author Jim Loehr writes extensively about how executives and managers can adopt a corporate athlete’s mindset, learning to manage their energy in order to fuel performance and purpose. His central tenet is this: Follow the training regimen of elite athletes, who have learned when to expend energy, when to recover and when to kick it into high gear.
Loehr doesn’t suggest you physically train for a race, but instead, adopt training principles to help manage your energy output on the job to ultimately drive performance. His suggestions include:
- Growing your body’s capacity to expend energy. Like a muscle, lack of use and over-use are both damaging. Instead, the muscle needs balance: Push it to its limit, and then allow for recovery. In the workplace, learn how to push your energy output, but then pull back to recover – and ensure optimal job performance.
- Adapting rituals that energize you. Athletes create routines that help them drive higher levels of output. Establish a daily routine with events like a coffee break, water cooler talk, or a set of push-ups to break up the periods of high-energy output.
- Scheduling time for recovery. Purposefully incorporate times into your day where you let the energy level come down so you can recover. Setting aside time helps you avoid overtraining and undertraining.
- Identifying barriers. For athletes, barriers to full-energy engagement may include the lack of a healthy diet, not stretching post-workout or not getting enough sleep. Identify those barriers in your life that are preventing you from reaching higher energy levels and sabotaging career resilience. These may include wasting energy on projects that can be delegated, people who require too much of your energy, and even a lack of a healthy diet, exercise or sleep.
“Sustained high performance is best served by assuming the mentality of a sprinter not a marathoner.” says Leohr in his book, The Power of Full Engagement. He also recommends “scheduling 90- to 120- minute periods of intense effort followed by shorter periods of recovery and renewal.”
So instead of plowing your way through a mountain of work, leaving yourself drained and exhausted, incorporate the mindset of a corporate sprinter. Take breaks to sustain your output, and incorporate other healthy best practices which will drive your job performance to unforeseen, unthinkable heights.
Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional. She specializes in coaching professional and executive clients and providing career advancement strategies. Copyright JL Careers Inc. All rights reserved.
Wishing you much career success!
Certified Executive Career Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional