Do you ever find yourself doing the “countdown”? You know, the one that starts Friday and goes until Monday morning? Come on, you know what I’m talking about. You wake up Sunday morning and you have a hot flash of anxiety because you’ve realized you only get one more sleep before you have to crawl out of bed and get back to the office. Where do you suppose that overwhelming feeling comes from? Is it stress? Maybe its exhaustion? If I’m guessing, you probably are stressed and exhausted, but not for the reasons you think you are. Let me explain…
I’ll start first with making sure we’re all on the same page with what stress and exhaustion are and how they relate to one another.
• Stress is essentially a byproduct of demanding circumstances. It affects your health in ways you may not even be aware of, from headaches, to insomnia, to decreased productivity. It impacts your mood, relationships and your work. In short, stress can and does affect every aspect of your life.
• Exhaustion, simply put, is physical and/or mental fatigue and it affects your life in the same ways stress does, but with an added bonus of energy loss.
Now I’m not going to go all WebMD, but hear me when I say, there are absolute hard costs associated with workplace stress and if you’re like the other 99.9% (not a real statistic) of the population, you’re probably the biggest contributor.
What the what? Yep, I said it, you are most likely the chief contributor to your stress and exhaustion. Before you pat yourself on the back for receiving a superlative, I’m not suggesting that because you did an awesome workout today you are the reason you’re tired. I’m saying this because you are likely tolerating things that make you nuts and are either unaware you’re doing it or choosing to do it because it’s seemingly the path of least resistance.
If constant stress has you feeling helpless, disillusioned, and completely exhausted, you may be tolerating things that you just can’t any longer! So, before you hit your breaking point, take a breath – help is on the way and it’s in the form on little baby steps you can do every time you get that overwhelming feeling.
So, let’s say you, at this very moment, are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, or some combination of each. You would do these.
Baby Step 1: Identify
Identify what you’re tolerating. Pay attention to how you feel and listen to the thoughts that are in your head. If, for example, you are okay with going to prison for stabbing your star employee because you’ve been tolerating the characteristics shown below, you may need to move to the next step.
• Social Media Addiction
• Negativity or pessimistic attitude
• Sloppiness/Cutting Corners
• Missed deadlines
• Failing to follow through
• Repeating mistakes
• Lack of ownership/failing to take ownership (deflecting)
Baby Step 2: List the effects
Think of or list the effects of what you’re tolerating has on you. In other words, get uber clear on the total cost of each tolerance. It is stunning what the personal impact those seemingly silly tolerances can have on you and how you navigate your day. You’ll see the following feelings creep up out of nowhere!
• Every day is a “bad” day
• You’re exhausted all the time
• The majority of your day is spent on task you find either mind-numbingly dull or completely overwhelming
• You feel like nothing you do makes a difference
• Feelings of failure and self-doubt
• Distracted from tasks
• Loss of motivation and energy
• Decreased commitment/increased distress
• No sense of accomplishment
Baby Step 3: Reframe
Reframe what you’re willing to tolerate & dump the rest.
• The most effective way to combat tolerations is to simply remove them. Get them out of your way so you can move on. Now before you run off and fire someone for misfiling something, understand the difference between mistakes and characteristics. Mistakes will happen occasionally, characteristics are fixtures that will only stop when you stop them.
• This likely means self-discipline in some form. Make sure that you are not, internally, the source of the things you are tolerating. But also, be willing to move to correct the problems you are tolerating outside yourself. Be full of grace if this means correcting someone else’s behavior, but you must bring both love and truth. Bring both mercy and justice to the table.