By Sid Madge, author of ‘Meee in a Work Minute’
When we look back on 2020 we’ll see it as a year of change. Right now many of us are longing for a return to a pre-Covid-19 normal but perhaps we should pause and consider what we do next. Given what we’ve been through is now to the time to shape a different and better future for our families, our businesses and the world?
Our embrace of technology, home working and digital solutions has shown that we can adapt quickly when needed. Lockdown has done more to open our minds to alternative ways of working than any initiative in the last 10 years!
Forget ‘new normal’. What we need is ‘new balance’. A move away from the often dysfunctional, high stress, win/lose mentality that leaves everyone depleted. As Intel’s Andy Gove famously said, “bad companies are destroyed by crisis, good companies survive them, and great companies are improved”.
Often those improvements are made possible in just a moment.
More good days
We all have good days and bad days at work, but when we allow the bad times to pollute our thinking, distort how we feel and gather momentum we can easily make things worse. This is not self-help positive thinking – this is biology.
Bad days lead to negative thought patterns, which increase the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in our system, which creates a negative feedback loop.
DHEA is the performance hormone and it does the opposite, in a positive feedback loop. If we feel good, our body creates more DHEA, which makes us feel better which creates even more and so on. Every day is a fresh day. Every moment is a fresh moment and we need to use them to deliberately interrupt the negative and re-set our system to minimise cortisol and maximise DHEA.
This is the reason I wrote the ‘Meee in a Minute’ book series. They offer minute sized interventions, life hacks, suggestions, insights, science, stories, short exercises or thought experiments and quotes that can help us to reboot after a tough day and improve our work life – in just a minute.
Let’s look at 5 ways you can improve your work-life – quickly!
If what you are doing now isn’t working – do the opposite and see if that works. Often, we just double-down on the same strategy and simply flog it harder. But if it’s not working, doing it harder just makes it more wrong. Take a minute to think about something in your life that is not working. What could you do instead? Think of the exact opposite? If you are struggling to get the best out of your team and you are not supporting them, try the opposite.
Create Confidence On-Demand
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy discovered something very interesting about confidence. It can be manufactured when we need it! By engaging in a ‘high-power’ pose for just two minutes we can increase our confidence hormone by 20 percent and reduce our stress hormone by 25 percent.
Next time you need a quick hit of confidence, maybe before an important meeting or negotiation, nip to the bathroom and do a ‘high-power’ pose for a couple of minutes. The easiest one to remember is the superman/wonderwoman pose. Stand up straight, shoulders back with your legs hip distance apart, hands on your hips. Look forward with your chin tilted upward and breathe deeply as though you have just arrived to save the world. Also, at another time (not just before your meeting!) take a minute to Google what the low power poses look like so you can avoid them.
The Holmes Rahe Stress Scale suggests that the more stressful life events we experience the more susceptible we are to physical illness, disease and depression. While logical, the theory doesn’t always hold true. A field of study, called post traumatic growth or adversarial growth, has shown that great suffering or trauma can actually lead to huge positive change. For example, after the Madrid bombings of 2004 psychologists found that many of those affected experienced positive psychological growth. A diagnosis of cancer and subsequent recovery can also trigger positive growth.
Take a minute to think of the positives that could come from 2020. It might not be fun in the moment, but when you can find the silver linings you can reset faster and move into growth and productivity.
Just Being Nice
This sounds really obvious but often, especially in business we are expected to be ‘efficient’ or ‘professional’ which doesn’t always incorporate ‘nice’. Why not? We are all experiencing Covid fall-out and the worst is probably yet to come. We can help and support each other to get through.
Being likable is a verified influencer, especially for marketing. We will always do more and go out of our way to help someone we like or has been nice to us. It makes business sense and it’s also a more enjoyable way to go through life. Take a minute to think about your day – could you have been nicer to anyone? Tomorrow just be nice to everyone you come in contact with, even if you don’t feel they deserve it. Not only will it brighten their day, but it will make you feel better too.
Dialling Down the Overwhelm
We can easily feel overloaded by too many decisions. But if we stop to consider those decisions and when they need to be made it may be possible to delay some without much impact. This will give you some thinking space.
Also, be honest with yourself about the work you do. Stress and overwhelm is rarely just about the amount of work we do. It’s usually exacerbated by the type of work we do and whether we enjoy it or are challenged by it or not.
Take a few minutes to really consider your current role. Do you enjoy it? Does the role inspire you or challenge you? Would you enjoy it more if you could include more flexible working? If so, make it happen. Or, is it time for a change? Life is too short – make the move.
Family and work life are both particularly challenging at the moment. I hope these ideas will help you to reduce stress and create more balance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sid Madge is founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people achieve extraordinary lives.
To date, Meee has transformed the lives of over 20,000 people, from leaders of PLC’s and SME’s to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates.
Sid Madge is also author of the ‘Meee in Minute’ series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work-, or family-life in 60 seconds.