Anxiety and Stress. It's Not Just When Things Go Wrong That We Struggle
Anxiety and Stress. It’s not just when things go wrong
We all struggle at one point or other with anxiety and stress, but it really isn’t just when things go wrong that we don’t function at our best.
It’s also when things are going well or rather much better than expected.
Many people have a set point that they are accustomed to performing to and if they fall below it, they start to worry and panic, that they are lacking or not good enough. The same happens when things start going much better than we expect or are used to, simply because we’re not used to it.
A guy, let’s call him Peter, was a pretty good salesman. He had a set target for each month, usually averaging around 8 deals. If he goes just below or just above that number, he’s ok as he’s done his numbers and knows it all averages itself out at the end of the year.
But if he only completed 1 or 2 deals as he neared the end of the month, he would get very anxious and at times panic set in, worried the gap would become too big and will affect his numbers year end.
Obviously, not where he wanted to be.
When the going gets a little too good.
Conversely, one month, he was straight out of the blocks and hit 4 of his target of 8 deals in the first week. He was off to a flying start and by the start of the second week, he had passed his target and was on a new record of 10 deals!
He had ideas of doubling, even tripling his deals average for the month. Thoughts turned to breaking the company record of 20 deals in a month.
If he did that he’d win a trip to the Far East and even get on stage at the company’s annual conference.
The other team members noticed Peter’s numbers and even the areas sales Director made a comment on an internal email about his sudden rise to fame with his figures. He was getting noticed big time.
When the anxiety and stress problems started.
His mind started working overtime.
Day by day Peter became more anxious and stressed about the figures, trying harder to make things happen. The sales started to slow up. In fact, they slowed up to a complete halt by the middle of the month.
His final sales figure stayed at 12 for the rest of the month. Peter was a nervous wreck; physically and mentally exhausted, angry and frustrated because he’d let everything slip and he was going to have to start all over again.
What really happened?
Peter basically got in his own way. He was happy doing his own thing, averaging 8 deals a month, as he usually coasted through and he certainly wasn’t used to being in this position. It was all new to him, so he wasn’t quite sure how to handle it.
Problems arise in the form of anxiety and stress, when we fall below or rise above what we are used to. In this case it was surpassing his sales average and he started thinking about breaking records, prizes and standing on the stage at the company conference, instead of focusing on his usual tasks…. sales.
The mind doesn’t always like change.
It’s quite happy for everything to stay the same and keep us plodding along doing what we do and what we’ve always done. It likes familiarity, our own little comfort zone, unless you’re prepared for it.
This guy wasn’t.
We all perform differently under pressure, but some learn how to work with it rather than let it overwhelm them.
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James Bargeron is a performance coach for driven, ambitious executives, entrepreneurs, business owners and elite sportsmen and women.
He has written for Thrive-Global, Inside Golf magazine, Golf Business and Surrey Golf magazine.