For many professionals, stress feels like an inevitable part of their work. We’re on the go, always connected, and striving for more. We want to be successful. But how does this stress impact our success? While it certainly isn’t black and white, stress often limits our success, or at least makes it more difficult to achieve. Though it might feel like stress is a result of you working your best, there’s a chance that your efforts are backfiring. Here’s why stress can be so detrimental to success.
Stress certainly shows up physically in most people’s bodies. When we consistently maintain high stress levels, we start to exhaust ourselves. This can take a real toll on our energy. When we’re tired, we can’t work at our optimal pace. We start to sacrifice quality or efficiency. It’s not just our physical energy that stress impacts. Stress can drain our mental energy as well. Our ability to focus tends to decline as stress increases. This can cause us to drag out even the simplest tasks simply because we can’t concentrate. In order to successfully grow our businesses, we need to be productive. We need to maximize our time so that we can get high-quality work done efficiently. To do this, we need to keep our stress levels down.
Stress also has an effect on our attitude and outlook. When we’re stressed, the way we think about our work can change. Instead of feeling connected to our purpose and motivated by our work, we feel overwhelmed and burnt out. Every new challenge is like a mountain to climb. We’re not seeking out new opportunities or setting new goals, we’re likely just treading water. We’re pushing through task by task, unable to focus on our vision for the future. Stress can also make it more difficult to be positive. When we let a negative mindset start to develop, it can really start to hold us back.
When thinking about stress and success, we also need to think about what we mean by success. Sure, for a short-term project, some level of stress is probably sustainable. But when it comes to long-lasting success? Regular stress makes that significantly more challenging. Consistent stress often leads to burnout. If we want long-lasting success, we need to pace ourselves. We need to strive for the things we want to achieve this year, but we also want to ensure that we have the energy and drive to continue doing so for years to come.
While I don’t recommend regularly using stress as a tool, it’s worth noting that stress isn’t purely detrimental. When we’re in control and ensure that periods of higher stress are short lived, it can be a source of motivation for some people. When they need that extra burst of energy to finish a challenging project by a deadline, for example, stress can have a positive effect. For this to be true though, stress can’t be our normal state, and we need to have ways to decompress and unwind.
Stress has become the norm for many professionals, but is it helping them reach their goals? In many cases, it’s probably backfiring. It’s important to check in with yourself. If you have short periods of stress from time to time, these probably aren’t doing much harm. But if stress is a more chronic state, it’s worth investigating strategies to help keep your stress levels in check.