How to Go From Stress to Success

When we want something, we often strategize, think about how to get from A to B, and then we get to work to make it all happen. But…

credits: Unsplash

When we want something, we often strategize, think about how to get from A to B, and then we pack in the hours to make it all happen. But rarely do we ‘check in’ to know if we are aligned to what we are pursuing. In my experience, when we don’t, the actual lived experience of pursuing that thing ends up feeling stressful – not exactly joyful, peaceful or fulfilling.

So, how are we ignoring the very things that are actually going to help us succeed?

  1. We think the harder we work the quicker we get what we want or the more hours we get in the sooner we are making it happen. 
  2. We place our attention and energy on what we are missing and lose focus on where we are going. To do great things – anything – requires focus.
  3. We copy others. Great to get inspiration. Good to see how others charted new waters. But it can also be a waste of energy analyzing what others are doing and how they are doing it. 

So we find ourselves stressed, anxious, and exhausted. But there are also simple ways to get on track with purpose and to where we want to be.

Shift focus

The battle is won in the mind and in following the heart. From this view, the hands follow. 

I believe that one of our first errors that creates stress is wrong focus. Hold the thought of your goal in your mind for a brief moment. Think about all the steps that must happen to go from A to B. Think of more steps you might have missed. If you haven’t reached your goal yet, it’s probably because you haven’t thought of a whole whack of things. Now, think about all the things that are getting in the way. How can you create more time to get to your goal? Also, what do you not have that you absolutely need to get to your goal? How are others doing it? Perhaps if you do it exactly step by step as they did, it’s an easier ride. You just have to buy their toolkit. This is scenario A – wrong focus.

Think about your goal and what it would feel like to be with it, experience it, see it, witness it. Spend a bit more time with the feelings this evokes. What else is going on in this picture that makes you feel fulfilled? What else might you experience in this scene that gives you a greater sense of peace? What were the tools, techniques, skills that you already have, knowledge, guidance and know-how that helped? Who were the friends, stakeholders and colleagues and what was the network that supported you? Where else is your heart guiding you to? This is scenario B – a shift in focus. 

Stop doing. Go within first. It’s not that you can’t learn more, use examples, find ways to be more efficient or revise your plan to see what else you might come up with. The problem with scenario A is its focus on lack and focus on ‘doing’ before going within. In my research and work with organizations, those that focus on what’s missing, come from the belief that other organizations must be emulated as the recipe for success, and keep taking action without reflection, do not succeed! This approach is debilitating. You learn not to see past the forrest. You learn to get stuck in a rut.

Scenario B follows what is called the ABCD (assets based community development) model or an approach that teaches you to focus on what’s working, what’s useful, where people can assist you, where you already have all the tools you are going to need. It is from this basis that you can feel your way forward by going within to feel if it feels right, and identify what else you might add and who else you might complement your skills and efforts. The experience is one of greater peace and fulfillment. You are better positioned to know how to move forward when you’re stuck.

The things that actually help us succeed

Let go of the belief that you have to work around the clock, and start focusing your energy more on the things that are priority for you. 

You are enough. You are enough without the next shiny thing. If it won’t truly add to your growth, you don’t need it. If it detracts joy from your life now, drop it. If it detracts from peace, it isn’t aligned with your true success. You deserve joy, peace and fulfillment.

You are unique. You have desires that want to find their way into the world through you. As long as you keep comparing yourself or your organization to others, or keep thinking about how to position yourself to some illusive thing in the future, you take the focus off the heart. Once you do that you disconnect. Plan for the long term AND shift your focus to your assets and what lights you up today. Sometimes we will need to work many hours in a day. But what will ultimately help you succeed in the long term isn’t the long hours. It’s embracing the things in your day that light you up. What keeps your energy high?

Peace and fulfilment come from living your values. What are core values to you? Write them out. How are you living them? When we ‘check in’ to know if we are aligned to them, we can better evaluate if we are truly on the path to our goal(s). Sure we might need to weather storms on the way and it won’t always feel awesome. But our goal must be aligned to what lights us up and what we stand by as our deepest values. And when we focus on what we have, affirm that we are enough and recognize how we are unique, we also find it easier to let go of what is not aligned, to find those who are aligned, and ultimately recognize what brings us closer to our goals. 

I believe success is built upon living a life fulfilled. Inherent to the idea of being fulfilled is the pursuit of something. Critical in that pursuit then is that we come from a place of abundance, a recognition of who we are, and core values. That, to me, is success – when and whether we get to our goals and each day we live. 

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