In this final installment of the Stressed in the City series I want to address an often misunderstood topic that is at the root of stress for many successful people – vision (or lack thereof).
The first pitfall is not having a vision at all. Having no vision for your life and work causes stress because you have nothing to work towards, nothing to look forward to, nothing to challenge yourself to achieve. Many successful people experience this once they have reached a major career or life goal. They almost burn out to achieve the goal, let themselves coast for awhile to enjoy their accomplishment, and then one day wake up to realize that they have a different kind of stress – the stress of being stuck in the “rinse and repeat” rat race of just doing more of the same each day.
The second pitfall is a vision that is too small. Most people limit their visions based on what they think they can actually achieve. Unfortunately visions that are too realistic don’t light a fire under your butt to start taking immediate action. You think you can still achieve the vision even if you start tomorrow. The challenge with this is that tomorrow is always a day away. The stress is living with the constant integrity gap of not doing anything to move towards your vision.
Another reason small visions cause stress is that most people never achieve everything they set out to achieve. From large scale disasters to small scale surprises, there are always unforeseen factors that get in the way of going as far and as fast as you would like. To get around this pitfall take a lesson from the most successful businesses – they overdesign. If you want to sell 1000 units/month, strategize for how to sell 2000. You will have to think very differently to sell and deliver on 2000 units. Stretching beyond the limits of what you think is possible forces you to challenge the old thinking patterns that are limiting your success (hint: often the same ones to which you attribute your current success). The great news is that if you shoot for 2000, you can still fail by 50% and achieve your original vision of 1000 units!
The third pitfall is not being willing to let go of what is not working. Once you engage in the process of conscious overdesign it quickly becomes clear what is not working and probably never will. In business this can include systems and processes but it often also includes people. It is the same in life. Whether it is a spouse, a key friendship, or a tyrannical boss, most people waste too much energy and endure far too much stress trying, usually unsuccessfully, to work around these human barricades.
It is stressful to let go of these relationships, but take a moment to do the following math. Add up all the time and energy you spend in an average month being angry at one of the people above, trying to help them or change them, making excuses for their behavior, worrying about them, and generally trying to design your life around their preferences and issues. Now multiply that by 12 months a year. Might the long term gain not be worth the short term pain?
The final pitfall is trying to do it all alone. Get support – the right kind of support. A recent client who really couldn’t “afford” business coaching found a way to invest in coaching anyways. Why? Because she realized that all of the well-meaning support from friends and family she had been relying upon just wasn’t going to get her as far as she wanted to go or as fast as she wanted to get there. Ask yourself what the right kind of support for your vision is and then go find it!