Psychologists report that stress, anxiety and tension reduce many people to operating at only half of their capabilities. Here are 15 tips to help ensure that you run at full capacity, all the time.
1. Be realistic about your own goals.
Don’t try to conquer the world in one day. A career is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t double your prospect list within 24 hours or convince everyone in the room that your way is best after a five-minute presentation. As the saying goes, the rewards don’t always go to the fastest runners, but to those who stay in the race.
2. Confront the fear of failure.
Everyone experiences fear of failure. But instead of expending valuable energy worrying about what will go wrong, put that extra energy into planning and preparing for what can go right. The best sales professionals experience failure regularly, but that means they are trying new things and constantly expanding their skill sets. So go ahead and try that new prospect or persuasion approach. If it works, great! If not, no big deal. Move on.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
If there is a misunderstanding between you and someone at work, talk it out. Don’t let something simple overwhelm your thoughts or activities. As soon as possible, pick up the phone, or go see that person, and explain your position. Somebody once told me, “If you have to go ugly, go ugly early.” In other words, communicate your position as soon as possible. This allows you time to solve the problem, and then concentrate on the business of getting more people to say, “Yes.”
4. Don’t become a victim of unrealistic demands.
People sometimes make requests that are impossible to fulfill: “We have no money, but we’d like to take you up on your offer.” You’re a sales professional, not a professional magician. If you think someone is making an unrealistic demand, take a few minutes to examine the request more closely. Sometimes the “impossible” really is possible, so do not use “unrealistic demands” as an easy way out. If, however, the demands truly are unrealistic, explain your position to the prospect. If he bolts, that’s OK. You weren’t going to be able to help him, anyway.
5. Get more rest.
Adults average 6.9 hours of sleep a night, even though many experts contend they need between seven and nine hours. The resulting sleep deprivation results in reduced productivity at work, irritability, diminished driving capacity and a variety of health problems.
6. Get to work early.
Employees who arrive early have a few spare minutes to better prepare for the day. Be one of them, and take that time to organize a daily “to-do” list or wrap up any loose ends from the previous day; you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel when you can get a jump on the day.
7. Get in shape.
Being in good physical condition leads to more energy – thanks to improved blood flow to muscles and the brain, faster muscle recovery and better use of oxygen. How do you determine if you are in good condition? Many experts consider the best indicator of health to be your resting heart rate. Physicians rank heart rate as the most important vital sign when evaluating patients. Most people have a resting heart rate between 70 and 90 beats per minute. A physically fit person will have a resting heart rate around 50 beats per minute. Scientific studies show a direct correlation between physical exercise and mental well-being, proving that aerobic exercise such as walking, running and bicycling for 30 minutes three times a week actually works.
8. Eat right.
Nutrition plays a major role in a person’s ability to handle stress. Eating the right foods at the right time gives you more energy and the ability to accomplish more. So, forget about that greasy fast-food burger; pack your lunch. It’ll save you calories and dollars. Or better yet, take a qualified buyer out to lunch, and enjoy salmon and a salad. Get healthy while building relationships.
9. Cut back on the caffeine.
Caffeine does not give you energy; it stimulates your nervous system and adrenals. That’s not energy; that’s stress. It’s been reported that a single 250-milligram dose of caffeine (about 2.5 six-ounce cups of coffee) can increase levels of the stress hormone epinephrine (adrenaline) by more than 200 percent. Be reasonable with your caffeine consumption, and understand that it isn’t a source of “real” energy.
10. Lose the smokes.
If reviewing the results of a Google image search of “smokers’ lungs” won’t make you stop smoking, perhaps the fact that cigarettes contain an estimated 4,000 known toxins with several known carcinogens will. Cigarette smoking also contributes to severe vitamin deficiencies and reduces your body’s ability to oxygenate. How do you quit? Try interval sprinting every other day, which should at least make you think twice before lighting up.
11. Spend time on yourself.
Go for a brisk walk early in the morning, or take the long way home in the evening. Everybody needs quiet time to recharge their mental batteries.
12. Get input from others.
Talking to friends, family members and coworkers about situations that cause stress can provide a different perspective. (Be sure to avoid whining to these people.) Constructive conversation can be a great tool for relieving stress. Often, it’s that sense of community and companionship that can see you through tough situations.
13. Use positive mental affirmations.
Much research has been conducted on the rejuvenating powers of the mind. Psychologists claim that most of our “self talk” is negative, which creates a defeatist attitude and low energy. When you feel your energy starting to ebb, and you’re focusing on how tired you are, try passing a powerful, energizing thought through your head. For the spiritually inclined, I like Isaiah 40:31KJV (go ahead, look it up). For something more secular, try the affirmation made famous by late-19th century French psychotherapist Émile Coué: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” I use both. A lot.
14. Understand control and influence.
I was taught long ago that successful people spend the majority of their time on what they can control, some time on what they can influence and precious little time on what they can’t control or influence. Instead of agonizing over the possibility of failure, use your resources to think of ways to get more projects in the pipeline or generate ideas to intensify the desire of your hot prospects. One huge contributor to being overwhelmed is feeling like you have no control. So work on what you can control, and don’t worry about the rest. Not always easy to do, but well worth it.
15. Have high-quality options.
That’s great advice. For whatever reason, the times in my life when I’ve succumbed to stress and behaved in ways I wish I hadn’t typically occurred because I felt I didn’t have options. So, build your skills, have financial reserves, establish scores of terrific professional partnerships, and you will always find that you have options.