How to Relieve the Pressure
Pressure is sometimes a good thing. That feeling when you’re close to a deadline (whenyou’ve left it till the last minute, like I do) or when it gives you a kick up the arse because you’ve got to deliver a presentation, so you better prepare for it. Then, the pressure is good — it makes you better. But this isn’t an article about good pressure, that’s far too boring and simple. This is an article about bad pressure.
Pressure for the wrong reasons leads to all kinds of unhappiness. We live in a world that is full of prosperity, there is an abundance of jobs, you can be whoever you want to be. That in itself should be empowering. We should feel the world is our oyster. We should feel like we can take on the world. We should feel like we are only limited about the ends of our thoughts. But instead, we feel, lost. The world feels so huge sometimes and the pure abundance of everything makes us feel so small and so lost that we feel stuck. Gone are the days that you get a job for life because it pays okay and it’s in a steady industry. Today, people are job ‘hopping’ more than ever, people are unapologetic about what they want from life and they are grabbing it by the balls. So, if you are not doing that, by default, you are failing. Or so it feels. If you look left and right and you’ve been in the same job for a bit or you are not ‘following your passion’ (I hate that term) then it can feel like you are behind.
That’s the bad pressure. And I’ve been there. You look up and all of a sudden all your friends from school are smashing it, the people you went Uni with are seven steps ahead of you and you’re sat thinking ‘what do I do?!’. You start to question all your life decisions that got you this far and the feelings of emptiness starts to creep in. ‘Shit — I’ve done it all wrong’. You start to compare everything. I need to be getting a qualification, I need to be leading a team, I need to be earning over ‘x’ amount. The constant flow of ‘I need to’ takes over the narrative in your head and you find yourself mounting the pressure on.
“Well I’ll have to stay at work tonight because that’s what it takes” “I’ll work on the weekend because then I’m two steps ahead for Monday and I’ll be closer to getting the next rung of the ladder”
It’s not often that we sit back and ask ourselves why. Why do you need the promotion, qualification, to lead a team, earning over ‘x’ amount? Are you genuinely excited about the role and want your manager’s job or are you just pursuing the next level because it’s what everyone else does? Do you really want a qualification or is it just because someone you know has just qualified in something and you feel like that’s what you should be doing. These examples go on and on. The long and short of it is — if you believe it, it’s true. If you believe there is a right way to do things and you are behind, you will be. Whatever you think is true to you. Equally, if you take a step back and think ‘actually it’s all fine’ — it all will be. So, as in Dan Ariely’s brilliant book ‘Predictably Irrational’, we need to implore ourselves to think a little deeper than ‘just because they are, I will’, we need to be careful to create mental shortcuts for ourselves that are ‘do more’ and ‘go further’ and ‘get the next rung of the ladder’. They are all great ambitions if it’s actually what you are striving for — but if you’re just doing it because someone else is, it will fail in more ways than one.
Originally published at https://www.careerhealth.info on February 22, 2020.