You’ve heard the phrase “When it rains, it pours.” So how can you stay afloat when you're struck by the perfect storm of stress?
Imagine having a full time job… a part time business… doing an accelerated MBA program… with a pregnant wife… during the holiday seasons.
Does something like that sound familiar?
I've been there and all I can say is wow.
But it doesn't have to be a slew of major life events all at once to make you feel like stress is bombarding you from every angle.
Sometimes, it could be all the moving parts of a single activity, such as launching a new product. Or it could be as simple as a single step that surprises you during your day and sets you back then leaves you feeling like you're racing to catch up.
Today I'm going to share with you a simple approach to defeating a multi-sided stress attack. Let me explain.
Trading Quick Wins for Real Progress
The major life events I mentioned earlier – a full time job, part time business, accelerated MBA, with a pregnant wife, during the holiday season. That was a lot.
But it was like doing a five piece jigsaw puzzle. When the pieces are that big, it is easier to put the puzzle together. What happens when you have one key objective made up of 1000 pieces?
It's clearly a lot easier to put together a five piece puzzle than it is a 1000 piece puzzle.
If you're like me, half the time, you might get hyper-focused on that one primary objective.
Then other important pieces of your life that don't feel so urgent… they start to crumble and you get out of balance.
Or maybe the other half of the time that primary objective can feel so intimidating, that you begin to prioritize other lesser important tasks ahead of the most important one because they feel less scary.
I was in the early stages of switching from being a freelance copywriter to coaching on work-life balance.
I still love writing copy, and I'm good at it. But helping families and small business owners to find balance is what really holds my passion and purpose.
At the advice of my mentor, I was going to start this new direction by launching a podcast. I immediately purchased the course that he recommended on how to launch a podcast. And I did the first lesson that evening. Then I barely glanced at it for two months.
Clearly, being hyper-focused was not the problem this time.
I was avoiding the stress of the unknown.
I was avoiding the stress of something new and different by focusing on other things that needed to be done.
I was magnifying the call of one area in order to avoid the more important call of the most important thing I needed to do.
Don't get me wrong, what I was doing was still important. I was writing sales copy for others. I was earning money for my business and family. And I was sharing with others what I wanted to do so I could get their feedback on how I could bring more value to married entrepreneurs just like you.
But I still wasn't doing what was most important and taking action on the one thing that mattered most for the future of my business.
Imagine turning your back on a warrior with a spear so that you can fight off bad guys carrying toothpicks.
That's exactly what I was doing, and what most of us do when we feel surrounded by stress.
We seek to reduce stress by taking on the safest task. And even when we're victorious, it doesn't even register a reduction in stress.
Now that approach works with Dave Ramsey and creating a debt snowball. I've done that. It's fantastic. It works with debt. But it doesn't work the same way when we're seeking to reduce stress.
And at that time, I needed to stop avoiding the warrior with that spear. I needed to take on the number one cause of my stress, even if it meant getting poked in the back by a few bad guys with the toothpicks.
My First Step Was to Make a Plan.
I looked at the course on podcasting that I had purchased and I blocked out time in my calendar to complete the course.
I scheduled a certain amount of time each day to focus on that top priority. As I took the course and action steps arose, I scheduled in my calendar when to complete those things.
It was working.
By simply prioritizing and making progress on the most important thing I needed to do, the surrounding stressors began to shrink.
I completed the course and I had multiple guest interviews in the bag and I was nearly set to launch my podcast… when the next test came.
Obsession with Perfection is Just a Deflection.
I felt the stress of not having my graphic perfect, not having the description of my podcast perfect, not having my website perfect, or the episode intro and outro perfect. There was still so much to do.
And I felt the stress of every angle attacking me.
But really, it all boiled down to one reality… I was afraid of rejection. I was afraid no one would listen.
So again, the first step was to make a plan. I set a launch date. I shared the date with my friends and family. I shared it on social media and I shared it with my mastermind.
Then I took as much action as I could before the launch date, and decided to let the rest take care of itself.
There are several hundred thousand podcasts out there, and 10s of thousands of business podcasts. And when I launched my podcast, Apple podcast ranked my show number 72 in entrepreneurship. People were listening. People liked it. It added value.
But I never would have launched my podcast and achieved such a high ranking had I not figured out how to face the multi-sided stress attacks.
Patterns of Success – Doing What Works
Let's look at exactly what I did and what you can do too when facing stress from several areas of your life.
First, let's look at what wasn't working.
I was trying to avoid stress through reaction rather than decisive action.
This meant I was chasing whatever seemed the most relevant. And it also means that I was only doing the things I felt like doing at the time.
I had no plan. I was simply reacting to my emotions or to the events of the day.
That will never help you find balance, because you may never feel like doing newer different things that are necessary to bring you your desired new or different results.
Now let's look at what I did that brought the desired results.
I took on the most important thing that needed to be done.
Do you realize how much stress is caused by not doing what you know is most important? And do you realize how much stress is lifted simply by doing the thing you know you should be doing?
Fear and resistance are real things that are best conquered with a plan.
And that's what I did. I created a plan. I created a schedule that had me completing the one thing that would have the biggest impact. Then, with that done, I moved to the next singular thing that would have the biggest impact.
One last thing I did that brought the desired results… I set a deadline as part of my plan.
I was wavering in finishing my plan without that deadline. So we need to remember to include that launch date, or that product release date or that deadline as part of your plan.
Clear Action Steps You Can Take Today
Step 1: List out all the different actionable items adding stress to your life.
These are things like starting a podcast, launching a product, planning your 10 year anniversary or setting aside time to strengthen your relationship with your teenager.
These actionable items are not things that may cause you stress, but that you can't take real action to improve. For example, a neighbor's messy yard, or what's going on in the political front, or your spouse's eating and exercise habits or lack thereof.
These are things that you can take action on to start reducing stress in your life. And once you have your list, we go to…
Step 2: Choose the most important one.
Here's where I would sometimes waffle. What if what I picked isn't the most important one? What if I think it is at the time and then when I start doing it, I realize that something else is actually more important?
Guess what? Do your best to choose the most important one, and then stick to it until it is done.
Step 3: Break down whatever task you choose into bite-sized pieces.
You have your most important goal and, now, what are the smaller steps that it's going to take to achieve that?
Step 4: Make a plan and schedule blocks of time each day to complete those bite-sized pieces.
The blocks of time should be earlier in your day. They should take priority for the day, but it shouldn't fill up your whole entire day. It should still leave time to address other matters.
And addressing those other matters is going to be easier. You're going to feel better and more balanced because you've already taken care of the most important piece.
Step 5: Set a deadline for completion and share that deadline with others.
Maybe it's in groups you're a part of on Facebook or other social media. Share it with trusted supporters, share it with family and friends, just get it out there. It will create an element of accountability that will keep you on target.
When you make a plan that helps you focus on the most important task you are facing, you make a plan to reduce and defeat the multi-sided stressors you face each day.
Focus is Not Enough, You Must Do This Too
Remember that all stressors are not created equal. You will find the greatest relief and the ability to properly engage in other areas of your life by focusing on the most important task.
But focus alone is not enough. You must have a plan and keep to your plan.
Use the five steps that we just outlined, to create and keep your plan.
As you do this, you will feel more balanced between your work and your home life. You will continue to become the person your family deserves.
One More Thing to Help You
Now, to wrap up for this week. If you don't yet follow me on social media, check me out @thejoepomeroy on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
You'll want to connect right away as I will soon be launching a free group to connect you with other married entrepreneurs so you can receive support from each other just like we talked about today.
This is going to be key to you living a balanced life.
So connect with me today @thejoepomeroy and keep moving forward.
We'll talk to you soon.