This past Friday, at 3:30PM, I finished up a 3-4 week period where I had overcommitted. Partly because I was out unexpectedly for a couple weeks and there was a ripple effect, and partly because I underestimated the work.
And partly because I did not exercise the courage to manage projects and expectations!
Good news – I got through it and did so while producing good work. Of course, I am exhausted.
I mention this because it is the context that has led to an internal dialogue I have been having about pressure.
I know (know is strong, believe) that pressure is made up for most of us most of the time. If we feel pressure, it is because we have allowed that to happen. If we don’t want to feel pressure, we need to make better choices and choose to not feel pressure.
As kind and caring people, we want to say yes. We want to help. And if you are like me, a solopreneur, you might even feel that there is some risk to saying NO to potential work from clients.
Going through this past month has reinforced the importance of taking charge and choosing to not let feelings of pressure determine my schedule. If there is one thing that is clear to me, many people are in the same boat. This will make choosing to reject pressure easier. If you have an open and earnest conversation with folks, they will not only understand, they may even applaud your choices. You might help them muster up the courage to do the same.
I am going feel less pressure.
And it’s not just about making better choices, we have an opportunity to prevent ourselves from feeling pain from pressure. I have lots of things going on. I can stress about that, or I can choose not to feel stress or pressure.
You have several projects in the works, your office is a mess, you need to spend some time thinking about a few communication memos, you need to get caught up on reading, and you need to get connected with a few people. In addition, you have been ignoring your spouse.
You can let this state of affairs (you are in the weeds) stress you out. You feel pressure and this will affect your sleep and overall enjoyment of your time. You lose focus when you are weary and distracted by thoughts about what you ought to be doing.
You acknowledge that you have a lot to do. You make an appointment with yourself to sit down, organize and come up with a plan of attack. Perhaps undo some things, push them back, or delegate them. You look forward to the planning appointment and in the mean time you don’t give the stacks and unfinished work a second thought. You do some chunking, and have fun. This is why you are here! While you are committed to doing great work, you do not feel pressure. You are confident that you will plan the work and work your plan to get over this hump.
And there are other options, but you get my drift.
I am not being self righteous here – writing these words is therapy for me. It’s what I need right now and how I am choosing to operate. I’ve made an appointment with myself for tomorrow afternoon and I will not fret, worry, or take on pressure. A few moments listening to iTunes and my mind will be clear.
Say goodbye to pressure. Give it a try!