Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Don’t stress: how to conquer the 21st-century evil

stress lessWork-related stress is one of many modern-day evils. Rather than rage an all out assault, in one foul swoop, job over-load makes a far more insidious, stealthier attack.

Little warning signs, like rising irritability, tiredness, and a faint sense that all is not well, are often ignored. Pushed to one side, rated as insignificant, many people mistakenly believe stress can be pushed to one side – something that can wait. Until it’s too late.

“It’s a busy time of year,” you may say. “I’ll take a break over the holidays.” Or you may convince yourself that once you get your current project finished you’ll get some rest.”

You continue to burn the candle at both ever-diminishing-ends, drinking endless cups of coffee to stay awake, or drowning in alcohol to help your over-active mind escape.

Your boss wants more productivity from you.

More. More. More.

Like Mathew’s company – a leading NZ financial institution. Despite their escalating profits they’ve cut back his bonuses. He has to work harder to earn back what he’s lost.

But, worse – they’ve cut back on employees too. Mathew’s so overloaded he’s beyond stressed. Relentless deadlines, sky-rocketing unachievable targets, and insatiable demands led to a heart-attack.

“They need me. We’re short-staffed at work,” he tells me, as he returns to work. Prematurely.

When is enough, enough?

“The world continues to allow evil because it isn’t angry enough”, author Bede Jarrett, once said. Passionate anger, constructively used, can become the fuel that drives you to embark on transformational, liberating change.

 

What are the 21st century evils?

Let’s start here (I know there are more) – greed and fear and narcissism.

Greed of the corporations who want more, more, more. For less, less, less.

I know there are good employers out there. But I know the opposite is also true. I hear the war stories every day in my work as a career counsellor and psychologist. The worst employers inflict fear on employees in myriad of ways.

Maybe you haven’t been told you’re expendable in so many words, but the inference is there. “If you don’t like it, you can leave,” one woman was recently told, when she tried to challenge bullying behaviour. “Get on with it, or we’ll reduce your hours and you can go and stock shelves.”

Really? Is this how people treat each other. No wonder recent workplace surveys report over  83% of the workforce is disengaged.

The narcissistic employer only cares about one person, one goal, one world view. Theirs. Do you have a narcissistic boss – check out this article >>  I’ve had many!

Dis-empowered, fearful employees worry that if they push back and say, “This job needs two people,” or if they try to work less hours, in order to hopefully achieve more, they’ll get over-looked in the next promotion round, or marked down as under-performing in their performance reviews. Worse, they worry they’ll be sacked.

No money, no life. Right?

“We know the people who will do well here,” a former manager once said to me on my first day at work. “They’re here at night, and they’re here in the weekends.”

No one dared question this mentality. Certainly not me, then a recent graduate, and single-mother with a mortgage to feed. I watched colleagues fall like flies. Heart-attacks, anxiety attacks, depression. Succumbing to the consequences of work-place stress. Many lost their battle with the booze. Some lost their marriages. When I developed shingles, and was warned that I might go blind, I knew this wasn’t my best life. This wasn’t any life. Not one worth living.

Power up for health

As Viktor Frankl, concentration camp survivor, psychiatrist and author, once said, find meaning in your situation. What are you learning? To stand up for yourself? To value your health? To value your relationships? To value YOUR LIFE?

If Viktor can find meaning witnessing the truly evil behaviour of Hitler’s mindless followers, and suffering at the hands of the German’s hostilities in the concentration camps of Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Dachau, you can find meaning in your workplace evil.

 

Heed the early warning signs

Think traffic lights. Green, yellow, red. Green – all’s going well, things are flowing. You’re in the passion and well-being zone.

Yellow, things are getting a little congested, your natural zest is slowing. It’s time to take your foot off the brake. It’s definitely not time to accelerate your pace, or take a chance and risk running a red.

Red! You ran the stop sign. What on earth were you thinking? Someone’s going to pay – that someone is you. If you’re ‘lucky’ you might get let off with a warning. If your luck’s out – bad. You’re dead. Physically or mentally. Whether it’s a heart attack, or a nervous breakdown – it’s a long journey back.

Like Clive who burnt out so badly one morning he just couldn’t get up. “I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t function at all. It took three years…and only now can I say, “I’m back.”

At 55 he’s reinventing his career. And yes, he’s found meaning and purpose from his own suffering. To help others live significant lives – devoid of stress.

“I’ve been to too many funerals, and heard to many pre-death confessions, where people have told me, “My life has been one of regret…I wish I had….”

So Clive, is taking his life back. Reinventing his career, his life. Living and working with passion and purpose – and balance! He’s training to be a life coach and working as an EAP counsellor. He couldn’t be happier – and healthier.

 

You’re human. You have limits. Your life matters.

Biologically we’re incapable of sustaining prolonged levels of stress, no matter how great our will.  If you don’t address your stress, your body’s adaptive resources can become exhausted – making you sick.

Thankfully there are simple but powerful strategies at hand to help you avoid too much ‘bad’ stress, so you don’t become ill, anxious or depressed during the change process.

And who knows, maybe once you have your stress levels back in check, or have found ways to proactively remove the sources of stress in either your work or private life, you may end up falling back in love with a job that you’d come to hate.

 

What can you do right now?

You have three choices:

  1. Know what you can change – and change it
  2. Accept what you can’t – and live with it
  3. Leave. Leave a situation that is creating harm.

 

Peter hated his job so much he quit, with no job to go to. You may not have that luxury. You may not be that impulsive.

Perhaps quitting, will take time. But whatever you do, take action. Don’t remain passive. Do not be a victim. Plan your escape. Put more energy into finding your next job, your next best-fit career, than you do your current work.

Get excited!

New is exciting

New is unexpected

New is that moment of stunned silence when you first see it

New is intuitive-know-how that makes everything effortless

New is the joy that you may never have experienced

New says, choose me

And new never cares what other people think

New is the changing you – the new job, the new career, the new way of working and living that now waits

Of course, making the right move, does take some planning.

Get real about what’s important

“I used to be the sort of person who usually put her head down and worked towards a goal and if I worked hard enough and aimed for my goal, then success would follow. And for the first time my life plan wasn’t working out,” said Juliet de Baubigny, a powerful venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. Her entrepreneurial genius, is said to have contributed to the transformation of companies such as Google and Amazon.

Several years ago her marriage ended in a bitter divorce, her young son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, and she ended up in the ICU with bilateral pneumonia, all within six months. “It makes you question faith and humanity, “she said. “So I thought, how do I redirect this?”

Juliet – heeded the call for change – embarked on a quest of discovery.

“I consulted every shaman, every psychic, every priest to learn about what was really important to me what my value system was.” The result? “The things that matter most in life are health, family and doing what you love.

Juliet’s imparts her wisdom to her children, “Do what you love, work hard, tell the truth and be kind.”

If only more kindness prevailed at work. Just think what a better place the world would be.

I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again. Do not, under any circumstances stay in a job that is making you physically ill. Perhaps, your mindset needs to change. Perhaps it’s the job. But whatever the cause, take action now to find the cure. Conquering this escalating modern day evil is so critical that I devoted a whole chapter to it in my new book, Mid-Life Career Rescue. And readers agree. As one reviewer wrote:

“An important book for anyone in a job that is making them physically ill

Cassandra Gaisford’s book, Mid-Life Career Rescue, puts passion first, exactly where it should be! She gently nudges us out of complacency by reminding us our career doesn’t have to be life-draining if we are willing to take time figuring out what we want and the skills we have to actually do it. And then brilliantly she provides all the action steps we need to make a move by asking simple, yet powerful questions to help us find the answers already there inside of ourselves.

I definitely recommend reading the chapter on stress in her book. I wish I had the valuable information she laid out 15 years ago when I went through a ‘brown out’,” one step before complete ‘burn out.’ If I knew what physical signs to look for I would have left that job way earlier than I did. Unfortunately for me I learned the hard way what a stressful job situation can do to you both mentally and physically, but you don’t have to. Instead, you just need to read Mid-life Rescue, and follow the advice of Ms. Gaisford.”

Learn the easy way

Work-related stress may be one of many modern-day evils; but it’s one you can wage-war on. Take your power-back. Proactively identify workplace stressors and seek to eliminate or minimise their impact.

The best weapon in your armoury? Love. Work with passion – do what you love, and love yourself enough to maintain the balance. Love your job, love your health, love your relationships. Love your friends. Love your family. You can have it all – sometimes doing less, really does give you more.

 

So my friend, tell me, “How will you reclaim your one precious life?”

 

I’ll leave you with these wise words from Rumi,

“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all. Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invites them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

 

 

Career expert Cassandra Gaisford, is the author of the Amazon #1 best-selling book, Mid-Life Career Rescue: How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you love, before it’s too late.

Visit www.worklifesolutions.co.nz and get her free eBook, “Find Your Passion.”

 

P.S. Perhaps, the solution to workplace stress is to employ yourself. If you’re a mid-lifer wanting to explore this as an option, my good friend Brian Jones, has written an excellent book – called “Over 50? Start Your Business! Build Wealth. Control Your Destiny. Leave a Legacy.” It’s on special currently –  only $0.99 on Amazon. What are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Share |


Comments are closed.