Heart-felt advice for overcoming your anxieties at work

Do you always feel anxious at work?  

If yes, then this learning note is for you!  It will provide you with some great tips for helping you understand yourself more, you will hear my own personal struggle with anxiety, perfectionism and competitiveness and it will also provide ideas on how to shift your own beliefs to take the temperature down so you can enjoy your job more!

Key Learning Prompts

  • Do you have to be on top of everything ALL the time to be ‘good’ at your job?
  • What core beliefs are driving your anxiety?
  • What would happen if you didn’t answer that email first?

Heart-felt advice for overcoming your anxieties at work

The Story – my clients and my own

One of the biggest career blockers for my coaching clients and it comes up time and time again, is anxiety and confidence. Stress levels can make work feel ‘too much’ and a lack of confidence can feed the feeling of overwhelm.  Clients say things like:

“Its important to ALWAYS be accepted”
“I want (need) to be across EVERYTHING
EVERYTHING I do must be of a high quality”

Words such as always, must, important, everything keep coming up.  These beliefs create pressure.  Pressure to be the perfect, most in integrity, honest, liked super boss ever!  Pressure leads to anxiety and all the implications that has (headaches, migraines, getting colds a lot, frantic thoughts, fight or flight mode engaged, making decisions in a panic). It can also contribute to that feeling of not being in the right job, not feeling good ever (physically or emotionally) or no longer enjoying the job.

I’ve experienced the crushing need to be the best, to be on top of everything all the time, to be ahead the game, to always have the solution before the problem is identified by others.  But it came at a cost – lots of headaches and not enjoying my job.  Over time and with more senior roles I’ve embraced new habits.  Some of the new habits came from understanding myself better (i.e.: writing a book helped me understand my creativity comes in short intense intervals and so I use that super power at work but know that I need to switch to other people focussed tasks once creativity hour is over otherwise I will burn out.)

Minimising anxiety

Anxieties that I have learnt to manage but used to really impact me and my health include:

  • needing to answer all emails in a certain time frame
  • being across everything, not having surprises
  • not offending anyone ever
  • worries about standing out because of negative impact on relationships with peers
  • being late for anything
  • dealing with all problems in the immediate
  • feeling solely responsible for a project ‘making it over the line’

 

Its not possible to be on top of everything ALL the time, nor is it essential to do a good job. 

Stressful jobs exacerbated these anxieties – fire fighting roles, high profile projects, or managing troubled teams. I really had to ask myself:

“Why do I have to be on top of everything ALL the time to think of myself as ‘good’ at my job”?

The answer came back via a jumbled series of random beliefs and memories:

  • My first management role where I was told ‘no surprises’ was a sign of a good manager
  • A senior manager role where was I told to ‘keep your team silent running’ so my boss could focus on other disaster areas in his department  (I was looking after testing for production support, infrastructure and integrations teams – keeping that silent running was NOT easy!!)
  • Me – not liking looking like I didn’t know something
  • Me – simple competitiveness and a love of ‘winning’

The great unravelling of these anxieties really began when I changed my beliefs and my expectations.

Because doing well at work does mean that:

  • some times people will be offended by your teams achievements, your successes, your ideas
  • being across everything leaves no room for creativity and can come across as controlling to your direct reports
  • if you’re great you’ll stand out (and that is something I’ve had to accept and get used too)
  • being late happens
  • dealing with problems in the immediate means not having time to get perspective, (such as organisation or  potliical context)… relationships aren’t just built in the immmediate, they are built over time… taking time out to consider can mean you make better decisions and get more support for that decision.  Some problems do need an immediate resolution (especially when in an operational role), its just understanding when this is this needed and when a sense of urgency isn’t really necessary and may even be destructive.

 

Techniques and lessons learnt

Techniques and lessons learnt that help me to shift out of anxiety mode and shift some of my beliefs:

  • Meditation
  • Cardio (lots of)
  • Testing different strategies for responsiveness and urgency to create more balance (ie: no longer having to be the first to respond to an email, not always having to be the one that offers to help,  letting email arguments run and then coming in at the end to recommend action vs contributing to the email chain blow-out).
  • Delegation
  • Letting go of detail (appropriately – some roles do need detail even in technical management roles so  this needs to be balanced with job requirements and the culture of the organisation)
  • Trusting your team
  • Perfect isn’t best
  • Valuing creativity
  • Trusting a great job isn’t dependent on always being ‘busy’, booked up with meetings or stressed out
  • Finding ways to deliver without having tight deadlines or other boundaries that are within my control
  • Leave at 5pm some days / take that lunch break / come in later one day a week

Now, I’d love to hear from you!

What makes you anxious at work?

What is one belief you have that needs to change?  

What bad habit have you broken successfully, and how has it changed how you feel about your job & career?

Let me know right here by commenting on this article (I read all the comments and love to hear your ideas 🙂 )

 

Want to work with me?

Are you questioning how you define success? Reflect on your career and ambition and consider how Career Coaching can help you.  Read through some great examples and testimonials of how women have used career coaching to actively change their status quo by clicking on this link now:  Career Coaching

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Goal Setting Secret #3 Taking Action

Secret #3 – Keys to successfully taking action

How often do you say this:

“I keep going no matter what!”

Secrets to successfully taking action

1. Schedule it
2. Allow enough time for each action
3. Get Support
4. Keep it super positive.

Pro tip: Use your project management and organisational powers that you use everyday at work and apply them to your personal goals and projects.

  1. Schedule in time each week to work exclusively on your goal and actions
  2. Book in enough time to one action done at a time
  3. Use tools like a spreadsheet or project management tool like ASANA to prioritise your actions and work through them in a logical order
  4. Get Support – find a career coach to support you, find an accountability partner to check-in with weekly,join a mastermind or find a mentor. Get the right level of support for the goal you are progressing with to help create your own cheersquad that is always on your side and keeping you accountable to getting those actions done.
  5. Keep it super positive.Celebrate small wins and surround yourself with positive inspiration.
    • What is the first thing you see or hear in the morning?
    • What is the first thing you see when you walk in the door?
    • What is the first thing you do when you get to your desk?

Create a routine that incorporates positivity from podcasts to the music you listen to, the art work at your home, the inspirational quote on a sticky-note at your desk or the gratitude journal you write in every morning.  Find little ways to shift and support your mood and keep you in the best frame of mind to achieving your goal.

Want more on goal setting, watch this Facebook live to get more thoughts on how to progress your goal and close out those actions.

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5 ways to get the respect you deserve in every meeting you run

1. Agree ways of working and behaving for every meeting
2. Keep the agenda narrow to 2-3 topics only
3. Keep the attendee list as small as possible
4. When people behave badly and refuse to change, remove them from the attendee list (and get instant respect from everyone else)
5. Ask for feedback

Want more?  Watch the back story by clicking the linked picture below or continue reading below.

Want to get ahead of the pack and stand in your power? Want to lead your pack and get that promotion this year? Then book a complimentary consult with me today to get started. 

The backstory:
I was recently running a series of meetings last year where behaviours were less than ideal. These included people talking over each other, not listening to each other, not respecting my role as chair, not respecting people who were presenting — so just talking over, interrupting, asking questions at the wrong time, making personal attacks, being very competitive, being very negative, and just outright rude behaviours.

As much as I could have blamed the people  for their “bad behaviours”  I took responsibility as the chair and really looked at what I could control within the meeting.

Why were things going so wrong?

What was contributing to the behaviours?

What had happened is that over many months the agenda had become bloated. The invite list had tripled and the attendees really had a different understanding what the meeting was for compared to myself or the original members of the meeting. This meant people came in confused, felt unheard, felt that their issues were undervalued. Because they weren’t given space on the agenda  they would fight to create that space.

So, I just took a step back and I said, “Well, I have to address these issues.”

What I did next is I relaunched the meeting and reframed the agenda of the meeting to be much narrower and clearer. I reduced the number of topics and agenda items from 12 to 3.   Set really strict times for each agenda item. And allowed specific time for Q & A and discussion and we would go around the room to make sure that everyone was heard and prompt them to ask questions or to get feedback.

So the meeting went from something that was very loose to something super-structured. And I did sort of hesitate a little bit on that, thinking that that was going to be too structured. I also reduced the invite list by about 70%.  And, obviously, that was controversial because some people didn’t want to be left out of the meeting. But for me the point of the meeting was to achieve certain objectives for which only certain people needed to attend to do so.

I also went and spoke individually to some of the people in the meeting and asked for their support for my role as chair and also to support better behaviours in the meeting of each other and themselves. I asked for respect when people were speaking, rather than talking over them and bringing up old war stories to attack people with.

Old stories don’t let us create a new story.

The most powerful thing I did was relaunch the forum and complete an exercise in that first forum on how do we want to feel and make others feel in our meeting. That really was about instilling responsibility for behaviour amongst everyone, not just myself as a chair or the leaders in the room but everyone who was attending.

The impact of these actions was really to take a ramshackle, aggressive meeting, where people felt anxious attending it, to a well run, respectful, enjoyable, easy meeting that people wanted to attend, an easy meeting for me to run, and a very easy meeting for people to speak up in.

And I had feedback from people saying, “I was beginning to feel anxious coming to that meeting, and now I feel like I really want to go to that meeting. And I’m not worried any more.”

Don’t be afraid to relaunch a meeting. Don’t be afraid to take people out of the meeting if they’re no longer suitable to attend, and the other thing I would say is take the time to discuss what behaviours you want in the meeting.

This is a great way to make everyone feel included, make everyone part of the story of that meeting, and also to take the temperature down if things are out of control.

I hope you found this really useful. My name is Beatrice Crocker, and I am the founder and lead coach of I’m Ready Now! Coaching and I am an executive coach that works with  women who work in traditionally male dominated fields or have reached that job level where there are very few women in the peer group.

I want you to find more purpose, meaning, leadership and growth in your career. I’m passionate about helping women to be seen living their true purpose and who want to radiantly embrace their lives, find more meaning, purpose, and growth in their career.

If you’d like to work with me, book a complimentary consult today to get started.   

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Following your heart opens up your world to possibility

What is the biggest learning you had this week?

If you follow me on Linkedin, Facebook or Insta, you will have noticed I sometimes post a learning of the week. These learnings cover 3 areas – what I learnt about myself, what I learnt about other or society, what I learnt at work.

Here are some highlights from my notes over Dec-Jan:

  • People listen when you communicate a message in the way they need to hear it
  • Kindness is powerful
  • Following your heart opens your world to possibility
  • We all love to laugh
Following your heart opens up your world to possibility
Following your heart opens up your world to possibility

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What have you learnt this week at work, about others and about yourself?

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Diplomacy 101

Respect confidences given freely.

Some of my biggest life lessons happened early particularly in regard to being diplomatic.  These lessons have always helped me especially in corporate roles. I originally shared this via Facebook and am sharing here with you just in case you missed it.

What lessons did you learn early and still apply today?

What happened?

When I was young (less than 10 I think), Mum told me how she had to give up studying at high-school at the end of Year 10 and shift to secretarial studies because she was a girl. Her brother was allowed to finish and become an engineer. I remember being MAD! Really MAD!

Shortly after, I remember walking beside my Poppa (Mum’s Dad). We were walking next to Frankston Tafe, opposite the train station. I remember it being a hot summers day. I seem to remember holding my Poppa’s hand, peering up with the sun in my eyes and saying ‘Poppa, why didn’t you let Mummy finish high-school?’


Afterwards (not sure how long afterwards), I remember Mum telling me never to repeat anything she told me to Poppa or too anyone else again. Mum was MAD, really MAD!

How did I feel?

Ashamed that I had embrassed my Mum and caused trouble.

Outraged that the issue was me speaking up, not the issue I perceived to be the ‘real issue’.

Taken aback, I thought I was helping.

What did I learn?

Don’t raise an objection on someone else’s behalf unless you have their permission.

Understand what is confidential and personal vs public knowledge.
Respect confidences given freely.

Epilogue : my Mum went back to school while I was in high school and completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Feminism studies and returned to the paid workforce until retirement.

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

What lessons did you learn early and still apply today?

 

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My top tip for sticking to your truth and pursuing your dreams

Unravelling shoulds and focusing on want has been a challenge I have set myself over the last 18 months. It’s been a really amazing journey and has led me to write a book and become a life coach while also increasing my satisfaction at work.

It’s also been painful because I say NO to a lot of things and sometimes other people don’t get it (the focus, the drive, the saying “NO”.)

When you have followed your dream, what has happened for you?

What is your number one tip to staying in your truth?

My own top tip is be really clear on your WHY. It really takes the pressure off an uncomfortable situation when I know this is where I need to be right now to get to where I am going. Knowing my why – helping women progress (personally, professionally and in society as a whole) helps keep me going when I have to decline another social invitation so I can work on my business, study or write a blog post. It keeps me centred.

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Can you fail safely?

"No one misses out and talent never goes unnoticed"
“No one misses out and talent never goes unnoticed”

 

“No one is critical and everyone is super supportive.

There is an open forum where you can present a big idea, win or improvement.

We get trained in how to present and if you don’t want to present live, then you film it as a webinar for anyone to watch.

No one misses out and talent never goes unnoticed.”

What would happen if you could fail safely and trial & error were encouraged?  

What would happen if every talented person and achievement was visible to decision makers?

Would this make a difference to you, your workplace, leadership style or company culture?

 

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