Growing up, I developed a tendency to stress myself more than necessary. I’m born anxious, and I became more ambitious over the years.
You can’t get work done without a healthy amount of stress. That’s how our lizard brain works. Stress derives from fear, and fear is a defense mechanism processed in our amygdala.
But sometimes, the pressure grows too big and it produces the opposite effect: procrastination. How can we achieve the right balance between stress and productivity?
Steven Pressfield’s concept of Resistance comes to mind. The stronger the pressure we apply in our work, the stronger the opposite force. Working too hard or expecting too much feed this creative resistance. Mixing anxiety, passion, and hustle is an explosive cocktail leading to burnout without proper management.
A day at work is like a wall. You need to go past the wall to advance your career. You can go through it like a wrecking ball, but you’ll hurt yourself. Or, as Bruce Lee would say, you can be like water. Be the gentle drop that penetrates the wall, or the sharp-witted wave that goes around it.
The best way to overcome any mental barrier is not through direct confrontation. You shouldn’t try to force yourself into doing anything, and you shouldn’t feel bad about things not acting the way you expect them to act. Reduce the pressure.
You don’t make intellectual diamonds by adding pressure. You keep the stress low and focus on increasing your intensity.