The Progress Principle

The Progress Principle

The idea that it's the "small wins" that keep us going, particularly in the face of stressors.

It can be enormously helpful to take a moment and reflect on what you've accomplished so far before turning your attention to the challenges that remain ahead.

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Nine Strategies Successful People Use to Overcome Stress

lifehacker.com

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Promotion Or Prevention
  • Some people think of their jobs as opportunities for achievement and accomplishment—they have a promotion focus: all about maximizing gains and avoiding missed opportunities. 
  • 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. It's about minimizing losses, trying to hang on to what you've got.

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Add Where and When to Your To-Do List

To the tasks on your to-do list, add a specific when and where to each. Try the if-then planning (or the  "implementation intentions").

For example, "Remember to call Bob" becomes "If it is Tuesday after lunch, then I'll call Bob." This enables you to seize the critical moment and make the call, even when you are busy doing other things. 

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Rely on Routines

Every time you make a decision, you create a state of 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. Have a routine for preparing for your day in the morning, and packing up to go home at night. Simple routines can dramatically reduce your experience of stress. 

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Do Something You Find Interesting

Interest doesn't just keep you going despite fatigue, it actually replenishes your energy.  Keep in mind:

  • Interesting is not the same thing as pleasant, fun, or relaxing (though they are certainly not mutually exclusive.) 
  • Interesting does not have to mean effortless. So you actually don't have to "take it easy" to refill your energy.

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Have Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is being willing to look at your mistakes or failures with kindness and understanding—without harsh criticism or defensiveness. 

Most of us believe that we need to be hard on ourselves to perform at our best, but it turns out that 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. 

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Be Good Vs. Get Better Mindset
  • When you have a Be-Good mindset, you expect to be able to do everything perfectly right out of the gate, and you constantly (often unconsciously) compare yourself to other people.
  • A Get-Better mindset leads to self-comparison and a concern with making progress—how well are you doing today, compared with how you did yesterday, last month, or last year? 

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Use If-Then Statements

If-then plans can help us control our emotional responses to stress. Simply decide what kind of response you would like to have instead of feeling stress, and make a plan that links your desired response to the situations that tend to raise your blood pressure.

For example, "If I see lots of emails in my inbox, then I will stay calm and relaxed," or, "If a deadline is approaching, then I will keep a cool head."

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Remember the "Big Picture"

Thinking Big Picture about the work you do can be very energizing in the face of stress and challenges because you are linking one particular, often small action to a greater meaning or purpose. 

Something that may not seem important or valuable on its own gets cast in a whole new light. 

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Questions To Help You Delegate
  • As a manager, what tasks am I doing that I was doing before my promotion?
  • What tasks would I delegate to a member of an ideal team?
  • What team members have the capacity to learn how to do these tasks?
  • How can I pass my knowledge along to others to prepare them for these tasks?

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Overriding this mechanism to shift this thinking in a rational direction requires emotional intelligence (EQ).

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From CEOs to firefighters to fighter-jet pilots, the ability to stay calm in a difficult situation can mean the difference between success and failure. So how do successful people stay cool under pressure?

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