Who Knows What the Future May Bring?
It’s an exciting thought, but also the source of much stress for many people. We live in an age of opportunity. And, although the socio-economic status of our readers varies greatly, you have internet access, so you’re already at a huge advantage! Vast opportunity is generally seen as being positive, although it can bring with it a degree of uncertainty. Who knows where you’ll end up in 10 years time? What if you haven’t progressed? What if you pursue the wrong opportunity, and it was all for nothing???
Put Your Stress to Rest… But not all of it.
A degree of stress can motivate us towards achieving our goals. It’s normal, and necessary. But if we succumb to it, then it can hinder our ability to capitalise on opportunities when they present. The ability to think clearly in stressful situations, comes from a general understanding of the internal (or micro) and external (macro) environment (a business analogy, where YOU are the organisation). The internal environment includes the things we can control, whereas the external environment covers the things we can’t control. Stress that stems directly from the external environment is generally unnecessary. This will only slow you down. Although it is good to be aware of external environmental factors, so that you can adapt accordingly. Your ability to adapt, refers to how well you manage your internal environment. These are the issues that you have the ability to change. So, exercise your control.
Exercising Your Control.
If there is an issue in the external environment causing you stress, consider what changes you can make internally to better cope with this issue. This is the process of exercising control, or explained simply, putting yourself in the driver’s seat. Lets use this theory in an example. Perhaps your employer has increased your hours, without a pay rise. Definitely a stressful situation. Whilst you can’t decide on your own pay increase, you can control your response. So lets focus on this. Perhaps you (diplomatically) express your disenchantment to your employer. You negotiate, however an agreement is not reached. You could strike, you could wait, you could find a new job. But, you can’t increase your own pay (external environment). Of course, you could take control of your own pay, by starting your own business. A difficult and extreme solution to the original issue, yes. But still within your control (internal environment). The lesson here, is that there is always a course of action that you can take within your internal environment, to influence the external environment.
The Stress of Uncertainty, and Taking Your Opportunities.
It’s easy to get caught up in the stress that is presented by the uncertainty of one’s future. For a student, the question might be “what career will I choose to work in for the rest of my life?”. A scary thought indeed. But the reality is that you don’t have to get it right the first go. Whats more important is your ability to recognise a worthwhile opportunity when it presents itself. Sometimes, you won’t know whether or not it is worthwhile until you give it a try. Whatever doesn’t work out, will serve as a valuable experience for the next opportunity. There is a very solid lesson here also, and that is that opportunity breeds opportunity. That’s not a typo, every opportunity that you engage will present another opportunity. Somewhere, somehow… You just need to be looking for it. It might present as a valuable lesson. Or perhaps be the refinement of your goals. Maybe it’s the career opportunity you’ve been searching so hard for. Eventually, all of these opportunities will lead to something special. Not taking your opportunities, is the only mistake that won’t teach you a lesson.
The Stress-Less Game Plan.
Lets outline what a stress management plan might look like if it were a game of football. At the end of the day, life is but a game. Success and stress go hand in hand. So tag it out of the game early, and reduce it’s negative impact on your life. Remember, there is no ‘I’ in team. The entire field must work together if you (the coach) ever expect to hold the premiership cup.
The best form of defense is offense! In other words, be proactive. Don’t wait for your stress to mount. By developing a firm understanding of the internal and external environment (what you can control vs what you can’t control) you’ll be well equipped to deal with stress when it does start to impact your game. So, critically analyse your environment, and sort the internal from the external. Beat stress before it makes it’s way into the back half!
In a football match, there are ebbs and flows. The ball simply cannot stay in your forward half forever. The same can be said of life. So, when stress does get on top, you need to exercise your control, and fight back. Put the external environment aside. Focus on what you can control. Make a positive impact by actioning the areas that can influence the external environment. Send a nice clearing ball into the forward half…
Always involved in the play, this line represents the resilience, determination and accountability that will get you through the hard times. The midfield must help out the defense when they are under attack. They also have to create the zone, to make sure the ball doesn’t easily find it’s way out of the offensive half. This is an attitude towards life. A midfielder’s job is never done…
The undertone of most of our articles is ‘accountability’. It’s all about self-help, in the direction of self-improvement. Back yourself, it’s never over until you say it’s over. Don’t yield to stress, follow the steps to manage it better, and allow yourself the opportunity to take your opportunities. Thanks again for reading, feel free to leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.