In Part I we looked at some of the dangers of stress and touched on how it can get the better of us. In Part II we looked at the need to find value in our goals, and see how valueless goals can leave us stressed and empty. Today we will look at how we can find a way out of the trap. There are many reasons a person could struggle with stress, but I think ultimately it can be boiled down to one thing – unmet expectations.
Unmet expectations could be anything – Being let down, losing a job, not getting promotion, a meal you are making getting ruined – anything at all where an expectation is not met, especially when there is no Plan B (and let’s be honest, who has a Plan B?). Now, note that this is when we struggle with stress. Not all stress is bad. Some stress is good and can help up. For anyone who has ever been involved with sport and gone into a big game, they have probably experienced the excitement of game day nerves. Feels so good, excitement with a small amount of dread to add to the edge, unless we have performance anxiety of course.
The good news is that there are some things we can do to help reverse the trends and reduce stress, and this can be done taking some concepts from sport psychology.
- Set the goals, I mean really plan and set them. What are you trying to achieve? Keep your eyes on your own performance, and your own habits. These are key to your success.
- Practice to achieve your goals. Set some time apart each day to work on the goals you want to achieve. Even if you have your job goals out of alignment with your personal goals, you are still working on your own future.
- Expect failure, learn from it, but don’t allow it to be your label. Be Pep Guardiola who says “I expect to lose games and drop more points,” and not Kevin Keegan.
- Expect others to fail. A big one this. People will let you down. It’s not personal (mostly), they have their things going on as well and they also make mistakes. As the dad of a goalkeeper it is difficult to see my son make a mistake (it’s rare, but even the best make mistakes), and watch the ball hit the net. Of the multiple errors that happened with teammates, stray passes, poor challenges, not closing down, or any other number of mistakes made by ten other players, as the last line of defence, his mistake is the most noticeable. Fortunately he has a great coach and great team, he is never blamed, and is always supported. It is a team effort win, lose or draw. I feel bad for kids who don’t have that support.
- The hardest one (for me at least) is let the past go. Learn from it, don’t hold on to it. Success is never final, and failure is never fatal. OK, that’s crap. There are many times when failure has been fatal. But for the most part, failure is just an experience, totally redeemable, and we can learn from and move on from it.
Here are today’s three takeaways:
1 – Be fluid in your approach. Keep your goals, but expect challenges to occur and be flexible.
2 – Be focused – practice – improve – always look at your own performance and habits above all else.
3 – Think like a goalkeeper. When things go wrong it has been a series of events. Think about how the failure could have been prevented, and don’t take it personal. It’s an event, not your identity.
The great thing about Pep Guardiola is he doesn’t seem to look at success or failure as anything other than a step towards whatever comes next. He focuses on performance, improvement, and the future, but today is just a part of the process, a process to be enjoyed and lived.
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