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How to Manage Stress, Part 2

As discussed in the opening blog of this series (Part 1), the ‘Manage’ pillar begins with you figuring out what your values and priorities are. We do so because of the profound impact it can yield when it comes to long-term behavior change.

It’s worth noting that values and priorities should each have 3-5 things listed. Any more than that and you’re not digging deep enough. Once you feel satisfied with the list of V/P that has been created, it’s time to start taking some action!

Get Some Tape:

The first thing to do is tape your V/P list somewhere you will see it first thing in the morning and at the end of your day. On the mirror near your toothbrush is usually a good bet. You want your first couple of actions to be super simple, as mere awareness of your list can work wonders. This is why writing goals down has been shown to lead to significantly more achievement versus merely letting them live in one’s mind (Those are called wishes, but that’s a blog for another day).

After a couple of weeks of simply looking at your V/P list, your next step is two-fold, which might mean that you divide the application over another couple of weeks.

Check Yes or No:

  1. Spend the first few minutes of your day, before picking up your phone or jumping onto the computer, simply reviewing your V/P list and writing out 1-2 actions that you could accomplish that day in service of your values.
  2. At the end of your workday, place a ‘√’ or an ‘X’ next to each of the actions you wrote down earlier that morning. Obviously this will signify either you did or did not take the action.

If you’re like me, you probably felt a bit of discomfort well up from deep down in your stomach after reading that second point because of the implications it can mean for people. Namely that you have succeeded or failed at moving closer to your deepest intentions. The good news? This is a positive thing for you to experience and one that you will spend time unpacking!

This reflection can go a few different ways, which we’ll cover next. The important thing to remember is that the greater your investment up front on this pillar, the greater the payoff for you, in both success and fulfillment. In each scenario below, we will assume that on the majority of days, you did not succeed at taking the action you chose. Begin each of the scenarios by asking: “For the actions I chose to take, why did I choose XYZ?”

Scenario 1:

You discover that the actions you chose were simply “too big” for the stage you’re at. For instance, you picked ‘exercise for 1 hour, 5-days per week’ despite not having exercised with any consistency for many years.

Scenario 2:

You discover that there is a lack of understanding or connection on your behalf on actions that are in alignment with your values. For example, while you wish to pursue sustainable health, you decided to do so by drastically cutting your food intake.

Scenario 3:

You discover you are constantly distracted by what you see others doing and are afraid of missing out or falling behind. For example, instead of unplugging to spend uninterrupted time with your spouse and children, you are frequently scrolling social media sites and/or responding to friends and co-worker texts and emails.

——————–

Can you feel the uneasiness that you will experience when reflecting on any of the above scenarios? This is the point!

It is here that you must confront the truth:

Having ambitions that are not supported by the appropriate actions creates the stress that so many live with chronically; for days, weeks, even years on end.

Until you have an ‘AHA’ moment with this exercise, you must rinse and repeat it. Said differently: your mindset must shift to understand the connection between stress and decisions made that are misaligned with your V/P before meaningful progress can be made through the steps we’ll cover in the next post.

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