Last week I saw the epitome of stress. The plump guy on the phone, red-faced, barked his instructions, pausing only long enough to draw breath, berate a subordinate and check his spreadsheet, while another phone buzzed on his desk. A common scene in the City, but this was not the trading floor of the stock exchange or money market. This was Keswick in the Lake District and he was hiring out pleasure boats.
It transpired that he had retired early to escape the rat race and live a quiet life. While our hero may have changed his location, he certainly hadn't changed much between his ears. Such type A characters typically run the formula: stress/tension + even greater action = success.
While stressful action can unquestionably be effective in the short term, it is ultimately self-defeating. It's a case of destroying the goose in pursuit of the instant gratification of more and more golden eggs.
Here's my formula - the easy way to success: flow + focus + action + satisfaction = success.
1. Flow - I remember when I was learning to snowboard - as long as nobody talked to me, there were no bumps and I didn't have to breathe, I was fine. While I got where I wanted to go, I arrived utterly exhausted. However, when I started playing my favourite music as I went along, I relaxed enough to begin enjoying the process. Not only did it hurt less when I fell, I arrived refreshed and ready for more.
2. Focus - It works on this principle: the more you focus on something, the more you get. The reticular activating system, psychological vestment and the law of attraction being three of my favourite explanations for this, but for our purposes suffice to say that it's pretty darn important to focus on what you really want.
3. Action - Do a quick reality check by asking yourself: If affirmation, visualisation and all that mind stuff is a load of bollocks and the only way to get results is hard work, am I doing enough of the right things to get where I want?
4. Satisfaction - You probably have a pretty good idea whether you're pushing too hard or not hard enough. It's a balance that will change many times in pursuit of a goal.
If you do need to do something else, start with something intrinsically satisfying. Personalise your plan until you find actions that are intrinsically satisfying to you.
If you're still racking your brains to figure out what else you could do to push yourself over the edge of success, take some time off from yourself and think before you succeed in killing the goose and frying the golden egg!
Ali Campbell is a life coach and NLP master