Stop rising to every challenge!
Most likely you begin a working day with one set of challenges, only to find many others spring up over the course of the day. Some of these need your attention but some, quite simply, do not.
Alex loved a challenge, he prided himself on his reputation as the team member who never shied away from a challenge. He thrived on the admiration from his colleagues for his relentless drive and his ability to excel under pressure. He was even quietly confident that this was his ticket to promotion.
However, as he consistently took on more and more, the signs of over-commitment began to show and his performance suffered, which left him feeling stressed and exhausted. Something had to give; he was determined that it wouldn’t be his health that ultimately paid the price.
Rising to the challenge is often seen as a strength and it can easily become overused. Many of us often find ourselves engaged in something we had no business getting into. But, we love a challenge, thrive on the feeling of solving problems, enjoy the recognition and we cherish the anticipation of being rewarded in the long run. It can even become a habit we don’t even think about; we just jump in.
But it doesn’t have to be this way – you don’t have to rise to every challenge that comes your way. Taking a step back and making a considered choice about whether you need to engage in a challenge or not can save you a lot of time, energy and stress.
Choosing not to engage will sometimes be the right choice, but to get there, It may take developing some discipline. Here are some ideas.
Steps to choosing consciously
- First, become aware of when and how often you automatically jump into a challenge.
- Force yourself to stop just for a moment to consider how important the challenge is: are you jumping in out of habit? Are you doing this for the dopamine feel-good factor of solving the problem or looking good? Is it about pleasing someone else? Or is this challenge truly relevant to your work?
- Before engaging, ask yourself, how urgent is this challenge really? And is it YOUR challenge?
- Dare to let go of, or say no to, something that you could solve but you know isn’t critically important.
- Remember that urgency does not equal importance; other people’s feelings of urgency do not mean that this issue is your priority.
In addition to following the above steps in the moment when a challenge arises, there are some things you can also do that will help you discern which challenges you will engage in.
- Set clear goals, so you know what is most important to you and your time – if the challenge is not in line with these goals, it will be easier to prioritise more important actions.
- Learn to say ‘No’.
- Take care of yourself to ensure you have the mental capacity to take that step back and make a conscious choice.
Learning to use your brain to distinguish which challenges are worth your time and effort will help you to achieve greater success and satisfaction while also managing your stress levels.
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