Nine Ways Successful People Defeat Stress – Heidi Grant Halvorson – Harvard Business Review


Nine Ways Successful People Defeat Stress – Heidi Grant Halvorson – Harvard Business Review.

This is one of those articles that merits the whole read because there is so much good material in it.  For the sake of providing the gateway to the whole piece, here is a flavour as to what Halvorson covers.

1. Have self-compassion.

“A dose of self-compassion when things are at their most difficult can reduce your stress and improve your performance, by making it easier to learn from your mistakes. So remember that to err is human, and give yourself a break.”

2. Remember the “Big Picture.”

3. Rely on routines.

In this section, Halvorson teases out the links between stress and decision-making. She characterizes decision-making as a mental tension that is in fact, stressful.

“The solution is to reduce the number of decisions you need to make by using routines. If there’s something you need to do every day, do it at the same time every day.”

Read the full article to find out a way that President Obama puts this into play.

4. Take five (or ten) minutes to do something you find interesting.

A brilliant but simple suggestion to replenish energy.  She cautions however that interesting doesn’t necessarily mean “fun, pleasant or relaxing”.  Nor does interesting mean effortless.

5. Add where and when to your to-do list.  Specifics will increase your chances of success.

6. Use if-thens for positive self-talk.

7. See your work in terms of progress, not perfection

She talks of two mindsets here: the “be good” mindset (perfectionists) and the “get better” mindsets. This aligns with Carol Dweck’s seminal work, Mindset where she lays out the results of several studies she conducted to focus on which type of mindset serves people better – those people who think they are smart inherently versus those who believe they can accomplish things with effort.  The latter group, or the “get better group”  here, fare better in the long haul with obstacles.

8. Think about the progress that you’ve already made.

9. Know whether optimism or defensive pessimism works for you.

This section is an interesting bit on motivational style and how people need to be motivated by a focus that works well for their particular style. The two main ones she identifies are those seeking:

“Opportunities for achievement and accomplishment — they have what psychologists call a promotion focus,  or maximizing gains and avoiding missed opportunities.”  In this case energy is sustained by optimism.   For others, doing a job well is about security, about not losing the positions they’ve worked so hard for. This prevention focus places the emphasis on avoiding danger, fulfilling responsibilities, and doing what feel you ought to do. In economic terms, it’s about minimizing losses, trying to hang on to what you’ve got.”




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