Optimize Your Life

Episode #20: 4 Pillars to Improve Your Performance and Prevent Burnout

Show Notes:

Hello all you beautiful People and welcome back to the show. I’m super excited to be here with you today because today we’re going to talk about four pillars that can help improve your performance and prevent burnout. Now while you may have very little control over the kinds of resources you have in terms of your job, I’m going to explain today how personal resources are ways in which you can increase engagement by developing yourself. As you’re going to find out mindset plays a big part in mitigating stress. Personal resources, also known as Psychological Capital, describe the within-person capabilities or the 4 pillars that I mentioned. These include hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism and they come together to spell the acronym HERO. These pillars correspond with increased life and job satisfaction and by focusing on them you can augment your personal resources. Having psychological Capital can help you feel confident to take on challenges, persevere, and bounce back. And developing even a single one of these four pillars will likely increase the other three.

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. 

Instead of looking outside of yourself, there are four pillars of inner work that can help you improve your performance and prevent burnout. As I mentioned, they are known as Psychological Capital.

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, whatever it is. 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. 

To cultivate increased Efficacy, make accurate conclusions about the reasons behind your mishaps, avoid labeling yourself negatively, and maintain a positive mindset even in the face of failures. 

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 all 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 anyways. 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. 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. 

To cultivate Optimism, adopt an abundance mindset whereby you celebrate other people’s wins. Practice gratitude for the wonderful things in your life, and practice self-care.

Let me share with you the story of my friend Kaley who 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?

Share your thoughts with me by leaving a comment and if you liked what you heard, please share this episode with someone else who might benefit. For more information on how you can increase your psychological capital, check out my Mindset Mastery Starter Kit at drsharongrossman.com and I’ll see you next week.

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