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Stress Management And Future Uncertainty: The Stress-Less Game Plan

TSA Footballer Soccer Cartoon Stress Management

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.

Offense

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!

Defense

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…

Midfield

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…

Final Note

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.

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Productivity Vs Procrastination: 5 Pertinent Points

Productivity Fist

Productivity vs Procrastination: Civil War.

Procrastination, ‘The Land of Counter-Productivity’, and civil unrest. Whether you’re studying, working, or developing a project, we’ve all journeyed there at one time or another. A self-destructive government wasting it’s resources, and you’re the President. But it’s time to clean up the streets, and appoint a new Secretary of Defence that isn’t so easily corrupted by fidget spinners and Netflix. The campaign for productivity has begun…

The 5 Pertinent Points of Productivity

Your productivity is measured by your level of quality output. This quality output is what you need to produce in order to achieve your goals. The more efficiently you can do this, the closer you’ll be to success. The first step towards being productive, is actually being there…

1. Be Where You Are.

This is a lesson on managing your internal and external environment, and the things that you can, and cannot control. Are you losing focus whilst writing an essay because you can’t help thinking about the deadline? Stop it. You can’t change the deadline. So put that thought aside, and concentrate on what you can do now, with the resources that you have available now.

2. Consider Your Goals.

Goal setting is an important part of creating direction and motivation that you need to consider. Why are you putting yourself through this? The process of achieving our goals may at times be tedious, but this hard work is what gives value to our goals in the first place. If it were easy and valuable, wouldn’t everyone have already achieved your goals?

3. Consider Your Consequences.

If goal setting is the positivity, then consequences are the negativity. Don’t ignore negativity simply because you fear it will classify you as a pessimist. Be aware of what you could be missing out on if you choose not to do the work required. But, don’t dwell on it. That is the difference between being a realist and a pessimist. Hoping to achieve your goals won’t achieve your goals.

4. Re-Think Your Approach.

This point refers to efficiency, productivity’s dearest relative. If you feel like you’re chasing your tail, perhaps its time to change your process. There will always be improvements and adjustments that can be made to the way you approach any activity. After all, nobody is perfect. So, time spent procrastinating could instead be spent on reviewing how you do things. Is your environment conducive to productivity? What could you change? What distractions could you avoid, and how?These questions will lead to improved efficiency and productivity.

5. Do Something Else.

If all else fails, you can declare a productivity vs procrastination cease-fire. Walk away, and do something different for a little while. That doesn’t mean go off and watch a feature length film. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that you should indulge in the activity that is causing you to procrastinate. If you’re studying, it might mean go for a walk to grab a coffee, and get back to work in ten minutes time. Basically, give yourself short breaks if you become distracted for a period of time, and then return ready to work.

Signing the Peace Treaty.

Learning to work harmoniously alongside the inevitable temptations of procrastination will take some doing. Follow The 5 Pertinent Points, and begin campaigning for a stronger balance of efficiency and productivity today. Like anything, you’ll refine and adjust as you go along… It may not be a perfect process, but with each step you take, you’ll be far closer to where you need to be. Realise your goals, and earn your happiness.

As always, thanks for reading and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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The Success Blueprint: Defining, Planning And Achieving

TSA Success Cartoon

What is Success?

Success can have a number of definitions, depending on who you’re asking. That is an important lesson in it’s self. Success is relative. Relative to your environment, level of ability, and goals. Often, people tend to focus on the success of others, and forget to consider their own achievements. If you’re an actor, don’t belittle your efforts that were recognised by the local theatre’s awards night, simply because Leo has an Oscar. Each small victory is a stepping stone towards your next successful endeavour. The recognition and confidence attained from being crowned the best local actor will translate to personal growth and development. If you have the work-ethic to match, this will expose you to a new environment, with new measures of success. But remember, every good idea needs a plan…

The Success Blueprint.

It doesn’t just happen. You need to make it happen. You can’t wish it’s way into your life, nor can you purchase it. So what is it, exactly? That’s the first thing you need to figure out… What does your success look like? This leads us to step one of the planning process:

1. Defining Your Success (Long-Term Goals).

This is how you will define and measure your own success. Perhaps start with one major goal to begin with. This goal may seem far away, but don’t sell yourself short just yet. If all we did was set long-term goals, we’d almost never reach them. So, we need to map out a path towards achieving these long-term goals, which brings us to step two.

2. Paving the Way (Short-Term Goals).

Your long-term goal probably looks pretty scary right now… Fear of failure is normal, and often a motivating factor towards achieving our goals. However, sometimes it can prevent people from ever embarking on the journey. If you can map out the steps required in order to achieve your goals, you will give yourself a greater shot at success. So, in chronological order, what minor successes will you need to achieve in order to reach your long-term goal?

3. The Daily Grind (Regular Practices)

This step breaks down the goal-setting process even further. What activities, processes and practices will you need to consider on a regular basis in order to achieve each short-term goal that you have set for yourself? Often, these are the activities that require discipline and a strong work-ethic. Ideally, your vision is something you are passionate about, and therefore you should enjoy the process of achieving it. But, reality tells us that you won’t always enjoy it. So, are you willing to endure? This could be the make or break of your overall success.

4. Implementing, Refining and Achieving

You have set yourself long, and short-term goals. You have considered the regular practices and activities that will allow you to achieve those goals. You’ve recognised the level of discipline and mental toughness required to complete these regular activities. Now, you are ready to implement your plan and start achieving. As you achieve each small step, and immerse yourself in ‘The Daily Grind’ activities, your knowledge of what is required in order to achieve your goals will develop. This generally means that you’ll need to rethink some aspects of stages two and three of your ‘Blueprint’. All of this refinement, as a result of engaging your plan, will bring you closer to the success that you’ve been working towards.

Managing Your Expectations (and failures).

It would be nice to see everybody achieving their goals, and being happy, and helping one-another.  But if you’re waiting for that to happen, you’ll be waiting for a very, very long time. The reality is that we won’t all get to achieve the success that we’ve set out for. But that’s what makes success so special; the inevitability of failure. Failure is not the end of success, but rather an important part of achieving our goals. It might even be the reason you navigated your way to this post to read about success in the first place. What better way to describe it’s role in the process of achieving your goals? An understanding of this balance will help you to better respond to the challenges that will present throughout your journey towards success.

The Journey, Not The Destination.

A classic cliche that you’ve no doubt heard before, but one that we all need to constantly remind ourselves. Embarking on the sort of journey outlined in ‘The Success Blueprint’ will create opportunity. And opportunity breeds opportunity. Your idea of success will grow and develop, as you continue to. Your goals will shift, and you’ll be met with many more challenges and opportunities along the way. Most people will opt-out, and choose a far less stressful existence. For those who choose to persist, success will be as inevitable as failure. And that’s as good a ratio as one can ever expect.

Final Note

Setting yourself goals and finding the discipline to achieve them comes with a variety of challenges. You’ll need to understand how to manage pressure and stress, and develop the mental toughness to maintain focus when failure presents. As always, thanks for reading and we wish you all the success in the world! If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, we’d love to see them in the comments section below.

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Managing The Pressure Of Finding A Relationship: 3 Golden Rules

Relationship Easter Bunnies

If the thought of being single has ever worried you, then read on. Today, we explore the origins of our emotions, and the societal pressures that can influence our decisions when it comes to seeking out a life-partner. Following this, we’ll analyse the circumstances and influences of men and women in the various stages of their ‘relationship years’. We’ll also cover the 3 Golden Rules of managing pressures that can influence our decisions.

Men vs Women

Equal? Yes. The same? Absolutely not. Men and women have various strengths and weaknesses that can both compliment one another, and also be the cause of many an argument. It’s reasonable to assume that these complimentary differences were an evolutionary tactic to ensure survival, and reproduction. Were the physically stronger men supposed to protect mother and child? Were the emotionally intelligent women supposed to teach the children how to love, and nurture? It seems a reasonable assumption, but what does it look like in today’s society?..

Homo sapiens (Modern humans) vs Neanderthals

You’re probably not living the survivalist lifestyle that your neanderthal ancestors once did. Emotions, feelings, and relationships served a purpose that was far more transparent – survival. Our feelings still work to ensure our survival, but it looks much different in a society full of rules. You can no longer expect to wield your club, shout “UGG!”, and leave with a suitable mate (although we are told that this does still happen in nightclubs around the world). Times have changed, as have the roles of men and women. But thats not all. The influential pressures that can set us into a mad panic to find ‘the one’ have also evolved. Just as we have considered the origins of our emotions, and the purpose thereof, we can also consider the origins of the societal pressures that evoke these emotions.

Overcoming Societal Relationship Pressures.

Societal relationship pressures can influence people to make rash decisions in order to secure a life-partner. For men and women, our circumstances and influences at particular stages of our lives will vary. The following analysis is quite broad, so it won’t apply to everyone. However, the process of analysing your environmental influences and circumstances is never a bad idea. Hopefully it will provide a point of reference on which to compare your own experiences. Lets start with the late adolescent years:

Teens to Early Twenties.

Boys and girls are beginning to develop feelings for one another, and already our emotions are leading us astray. In the school environment, one of the largest influencing factors will be peer-pressure. This factor will be present in just about every stage of your life, although never as powerful as now. We are desperately trying to find our purpose in the world, and being somebody’s ‘squeeze’ doesn’t have to be it just because that is what your friends are doing. There has never been a better time to abolish yourself of relationship pressure, and pursue your interests towards becoming a valuable member of society. In summary, peer-pressure and insecurity are the most influential factors of societal relationship pressure at this stage. Recognise it, and don’t fall victim to these new, and sometimes overwhelming emotions.

Mid to Late Twenties.

At this stage, you might have experienced a relationship or two. The smelly teenage boy with acne is now a young man with serious career prospects. The beautiful young female, is now a beautiful young woman pursuing her chosen career path, too. The pressures of finding your way into a committed relationship have eased somewhat, although are still very dependent on your peer group. However, you are beginning to understand your place in the world. Considering all of this, the insecurities of your adolescent years have probably lessened too. But after a couple of failed relationships, you might be left wondering if you’ll ever find ‘the one’… The best piece of advice at this stage would be to let them come to you. Leverage your strengths, indulge your passions, and grow and develop.

Late Twenties to Early Thirties.

Yep, theres a bit of an overlap. This is generally around the time when we throw ourselves back into the midst of school-yard pressures. Our peers have found partners, our insecurities are encouraging us to make poor decisions. There is a stigma that comes with being single past a certain age. And to add to all of that… Time. This is now one of the biggest pressures we place on ourselves – “If I don’t find some one by X years old, I’ll be alone forever!”. Take your hand off the panic button, and ask yourself, “how did I get here?”. If 10/10 people say ‘bad luck’, then some of them are probably mistaken. Perhaps some critical self-reflection is on the menu. This doesn’t mean you should blame yourself, it simply means you should seek understanding. If we accept responsibility for our situation, then we also recognise the responsibility we have to improve it. The advice again, is to focus on personal development, rather than continuing the desperate quest for a life-partner. Don’t de-value yourself, re-find your value.

The 3 Golden Rules of Managing Pressure.

In order to combat any sort of influential pressure, consider the steps below…

1. Deconstruct Your Emotions

When we are pressured, it makes sense that we will experience some negative emotions. Although an influential factor might pressure us to reach a positive outcome, the negative emotions associated with pressure itself, can do the opposite. So, slow down, and think about why you feel the way you do.

2. Critically-Reflect

You’ve considered your emotions. Now examine how you have responded in the past. Did you reach the outcome you’d hoped for? If not, why? The last thing you want to do is continue making the same mistakes. Reflect, so that you may refine.

3. Take Action

This refers to the process of taking steps towards achieving a desired outcome. If the influential factor creating pressure was encouraging a positive outcome, then putting a plan in place to achieve this outcome is a great idea. Goal setting might be an important consideration as part of this step. If the negative emotions of pressure were causing you to make poor decisions, perhaps steps towards improving your decision-making skills would be a good place to start.

Final Note: General Advice Reminder.

Trying to generalise the common relationship experiences of an entire population obviously has it’s limitations. However, it does allow a platform to explore the emotions and experiences that can go hand-in-hand with relationships, and the societal pressures that can influence our decisions. As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.