Back to Work

Alabama – I’m in a hurry [HQ]

The official end of Summer is September 21st, but for many Labor Day marks the end of fun and freedom and signals the time to return to the cubicles and classrooms. Does it really have to be this way?

Is it possible to enter the work space with a new outlook for the coming months?

This post will look as some different ways to approach the “Getting Back To Work” phase of our year.

If I were to ask you to rate on a scale of 1-10 which day of the week is the most stressful, the majority of you would answer MONDAY. In fact a study of heart attacks in Scotland in between 1990 and 2000 showed that 20% more people die on Mondays from heart attacks than any other day of the week. Imagine that! We are the only species on the planet (I think) that has a popular day for having a heart attack.

What does this tell you?

Why should going back to work be so stressful that is can induce a heart attack?

One possibility is the impact of perception. We have placed a certain meaning on work that creates an incredibly high level of stress and anxiety.

For many people work is associated with:

Non-stop action
Extreme effort
Employer pressure
The pressure of being the bread winner
*add your own here

Considering that work may be currently taking up 1/3 of your life, it may be worth developing a more healthy and purposeful outlook.

To help you with this I would like to share two powerful tools that I recently read about in Timothy Gallwey’s The Inner Game of Stress.

Tool #1 – Redefine

This tool helps you create a new perspective on how you perceive work.

Here are the steps:

  1. Identify your current definition of work – What does work mean to you? How do you perceive your job and your role in it?
  2. What is the source of this definition? – I imagine that you did not plan on spending your life in a stressful environment. How did it come to have this meaning for you?
  3. Ask yourself, “How is this current definition of work impacting my life?” – Clarifying this helps to create the awareness that precedes change.
  4. Redefine – Create a new definition of what you want work to mean. Play with this till you find a definition that makes you look forward or at least at peace with your work reality.
  5. Write down your new definition of work and review it daily until it has become internalized.

This process can help to drastically reduce any stress you might have with work.

Tool #2 – STOP

This tool is goes beyond the meaning of work. The STOP tool is a way to put the breaks on your life and gain some deeper perspective. This tool can save you from coming to the end of your days wondering “What was I doing with my life”.

Whenever you encounter a situation in your life where you are feeling that things “just aren’t right,” use this tool to help you determine your next step.

Step back. – Imagine hitting the pause button of your life and being able to look at the situation objectively.

Think – What is really going on at this moment? What is causing you to feel this way. What are you priorities? Your options? Your obstacles?

Organize your thinking – Create a workable action plan.

Proceed – With greater clarity and understanding you can trust yourself to move forward.

There is no need to dread going back to work. Like a small child our day to day life can be an exciting playground of learning and growth. Use the Redefine and STOP tools to help you create the necessary perspective that can help you bring joy to your work days and purpose to your life.

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