In a society where we measure our worthiness based on performance, it is no wonder high achievers work themselves to the point of exhaustion. But what if there was a way to work smarter, not harder? What if you could leverage resources to boost performance without putting in more time and energy? What if the exact mechanisms that help you focus your mind to get more done can also improve your well-being?
Using the principles of Psychological Capital, you not only increase job satisfaction, you can feel more confident to take on challenges, persevere, and bounce back.
When it comes to your work, there may be tons of demands. You may not have as much autonomy as you would like. Over time, stress accumulates and if you don’t manage your mind, you can burn out.
Often, when we feel like work is overwhelming, we might ask for more time to work on a project or try to delegate tasks out so we have less on our plate. Alternatively, some people push themselves even harder, trying to prove that they can do it, especially when they feel themselves falling apart.
While you may have very little control over the kinds of resources you have in your job, you can utilize personal resources to increase engagement because those are factors you do have control over.
Mindset plays a big part in mitigating stress. Personal resources, also known as Psychological Capital, describe your personal capabilities. Instead of looking outside of yourself, look to these four pillars to skyrocket your performance and prevent burnout.
Together, they spell the acronym HERO. Developing even a single one of these pillars will likely increase the other three.
As you can see, Psychological Capital is largely about mindset. Hope is when you expect good things to happen. This is especially relevant when it comes to your goals. It’s not enough to set a goal and hope things turn out the way you would like. You need to couple your intention with action.
Hope is what propels you forward. It’s what keeps you motivated to hack away at your projects, to stick to your exercise plan, or to meditate day after day. It takes determination and commitment.
Hope is what helps you resist immediate gratification and stay consistent.
To cultivate more Hope at work, focus on creating SMART goals. These are, by definition, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
We all know what goals are and we’ve all set goals, but let’s talk about why and how this ties into hope.
If you’ve ever gone on a weight loss journey, you know how this works. You set a goal of losing 10, 20, 50 pounds. But then you have to get really clear on how to accomplish this goal. That’s where you decide to change aspects of your diet, or to exercise on certain days for certain amounts of time.
With weight loss or any other goal, one thing is clear. It’s not enough to have a strategy. You need to have the right mindset because otherwise, you end up losing hope and sabotaging yourself in the process. You gain back all the weight and feel defeated.
Hope is not just about wishing your extra pounds away. It’s about having the mental strength to keep going when it’s tough because you are focusing on the long-term benefits.
The second pillar, Efficacy, is about your belief in your ability. Efficacy is very powerful because it is one of the only things you truly have control over. You can invest effort into a task, but you have no guarantee about the outcome. If you get rejected by others, as often happens in sales, your belief in yourself sometimes is the only thing you have to hold onto. Once that disintegrates, it becomes a slippery slope.
What sometimes happens when you burn out is that you start doubting yourself. You recognize you’re no longer able to do what was once easy for you, so you might fall into the trap of interpreting that to mean that there is something wrong with you. Your confidence goes down the drain and you can fall into the trap of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Here are three tips to cultivate more self-efficacy:
Tip 1: Make accurate conclusions about the reasons behind your mishaps. It’s easy to get discouraged and avoid looking at your failures. But if we’ve learned anything from overcoming perfectionism, it’s that we have to learn from our mistakes. The only way to learn and avoid repeating mistakes is by understanding what led to them so we can do it differently the next time around. This doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it right on your next trial, but it assures that you keep trying different methods rather than making the same mistakes over and over again.
Tip 2: Avoid labeling yourself negatively. Just because you made a mistake or aren’t as quick to accomplish a task as someone else does not mean you are justified in beating yourself up. If you want to have faith in your ability, you need to be your own cheerleader, especially when times are tough. Stop comparing yourself to others. Focus instead on your goals and compare yourself today to where you were yesterday.
Tip 3: Maintain a positive mindset even in the face of failures. If you’re trying to accomplish something new or learn a new skill, you will fail many times. This does not mean anything about your ability. It just means you’re human. It takes our brain a while to catch onto new activities so be patient and gentle with yourself.
Sometimes, especially when we lack faith in our ability, we play small. We hold ourselves back from our full potential.
Take the story of Jillian, my 25-year-old client who struggled in the first year at her job. After getting a low-performance review, her manager approached her and asked whether she was serious about her role or if she would like help finding another job. At that moment, Jillian made a decision. She was going to buckle down and work harder. This translated into putting in more time and energy than anyone else at the company.
Here’s what happened. By the end of her second year, Jillian received recognition at the company party as the Most Improved worker. Amazing what happens when we believe in ourselves.
The third pillar, Resilience, is about bouncing back when life knocks you down. When something happens and you feel stressed out, if you are resilient, you are able to bounce back to your baseline. This is a really important skill.
Resilience is partly biological. Some people are just born a little bit more resilient than others. But the majority of it is psychological. That’s why mindset training is so important.
Carol Dweck, an American Psychologist and the author of the bestselling book Mindset, talks about a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset. In essence, she says that people with a growth mindset have a more expansive view of the world. They aren’t fixed in how they think about things.
If you are someone who is very controlling, for example, you will attempt to ensure that everything goes according to your plan because otherwise you feel anxious or become very negative. You lose motivation. You beat yourself up.
When you adopt a growth mindset, you flow with life. You’re more flexible and as you can imagine, this not only impacts your mental and physical health, it affects your relationships. A huge part of it is understanding how to think more openly about things, how to stay curious, and how not to shut off options just because they don’t fit into your existing framework.
To increase your resilience muscle, stay vigilant of your inner critic. Override any automatic negative thoughts by thinking of yourself as stronger with every adversity you face.
I recently spoke to my friend Stacy who shared with me the story of her colleague. You see, Stacy worked with a woman who always said, “I’m so lucky. Things always work out for me.” So one day, Stacy decided to start saying this to herself as well. She didn’t really buy into what she was saying, but she said it anyway.
And you know what happened? After a short while, she actually felt like it was true. She felt lucky.
Resilience is largely about mindset, so by saying things that you want to believe about yourself over and over again, you actually are programming your mind to believe them. This is the work I do with my clients in my group coaching program, The Priming Lab. Each month, we focus on a different topic and reprogram our subconscious in the direction we want so it’s easier for us to access the types of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we want without having to override our logical mind or inner critic.
Think about how you can build up resilience within yourself.
The final pillar of Psychological Capital is Optimism. This, again, comes back to the importance of mindset because the opposite of optimism is pessimism. When you interpret everything that’s happening around you as negative, it drains your energy. Before anything bad happens, you already anticipate a negative outcome. This, over time, can lead to burnout.
When, instead, you believe that the outcomes will be positive, you are more likely to have the energy, the motivation, and the willingness to invest in your work.
Here are 3 tips to cultivate optimism:
Tip 1: Adopt an abundance mindset. Instead of feeling envious when others achieve something and feeling inferior, celebrate their win. You can use this experience to inspire yourself to achieve personal goals and create cohesiveness with your team.
Tip 2: Practice gratitude for the wonderful things in your life. Even when times are tough, there is surely so much that is going well that you overlook. Stress has a way of focusing your mind on the negative. With a gratitude practice, you can refocus your mind on what is working and improve your mood and attitude.
Tip 3: Incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Stress can tip the scales in a negative direction–something that happens all too often that leads to burnout. To avoid this and maintain a positive attitude about your work, you can rebalance the scales with self-care. Find what helps you feel energized when you need a boost and relaxed when you need to unwind.
My friend Kaley was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 12. At that young age she learned about the potential limitations she would face. Because she was still a kid, she felt invincible. She decided then and there that she would beat her diagnosis. This attitude helped her overcome real difficulties like when she became paralyzed, when she was blind in one eye, and when she experienced severe fatigue.
After 17 years, she got sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. She intuitively knew that her body had the means to repair itself so she set out to find how she can experience long lasting relief. Today she is living disease-free and not only that, she is now helping others with MS recover their health as well.
The pillars of Psychological Capital correspond with increased life and job satisfaction. When you have a more hopeful and optimistic outlook, when you believe in yourself, and when you are able to bounce back quickly from adversity, you are not only a rockstar, you are primed to avoid burnout.
So now it’s your turn:
*What goals do you need to set to have more hope in creating the future you dream of?
*What do you need to believe in order to follow through on those goals?
*What do you need to tell yourself in order to believe that about yourself?
* And what attitude would help you show up even when you hit bumps in the road to keep you on track?
Your goal, needs, and attitudes can certainly help you be more resilient. But what makes the biggest difference in how you approach your work and how you feel is remembering that no matter how much you succeed or fail, you are enough.
If you’re burning out, download the Burnout Checklist to see which stage you are in and what you need to focus on to recover. Go to: https://drsharongrossman.com/burnoutchecklist/