Tag Archives: resilience

How To Manage Change Using Loss Aversion

Marketing psychology studies consumer behavior to find out the reasons and influences behind people buying stuff. And just as with any body of knowledge, it can be used well, or to take advantage of others.

A hard-wired human trait that marketers take advantage of is loss aversion.
One of the hardest instincts to overcome, loss aversion can be explained like this: It’s scarier to think of losing something that you already have, than it is to consider a possibly risky action to get something you want but don’t have yet. What you have is yours. A threat to it, or a hint of losing it, will hit you harder than losing a chance to gain something else.

Fear is a very strong motivator to hold onto things. When you have something, you have it: you can touch it, look it up, console yourself that it’s in storage. You know it’s there, you know you have it, and that knowledge keeps your stable world view secure. It also gives you some peace of mind that you have control.

Witness hoarders from the minimalist to the extremists, and how the storage industry helps people hide more stuff than they can fit into their homes. Think of the data storage industry and how it uses assurance to assuage people’s worries about data protection. In your own home there’s the catch-all drawer, and, well, how many old, busted umbrellas do you have hanging around somewhere?

No one likes losing stuff. Marketers from every niche and industry know it, that’s why there’s insurance for damn near everything. People also buy stuff motivated by the need to protect the things they already have.

All of that being said, how can use you use the power of loss aversion for yourself?

Knowledge is power, and now that you’re aware of how the threat of loss can affect your decisions, even subconsciously, how can you use that power to work in your favor?
Continue reading How To Manage Change Using Loss Aversion

Zigzags, Progress, and Quiet Success

TL;DR: Sometimes, “aiming high” can unintentionally set you up to fail.  Setting the bar low and hitting it consistently can help you achieve more at a more realistic pace, and one you can sustain.

Background context:
Mass media and social media show the extremes because that gets the most attention. On one platform, bad news makes the news. On the other, you get highlight reels and pictures from the lives of friends, family, and the people you follow.  In both cases, you get the edited, minute versions of events, and miss the things that happen off-screen or behind-the-scenes. You only get the parts of the story they want you to see, not the whole picture.

The effect of regularly seeing highlight — or lowlight, as  in the case of the news — reels creates a false impressions of how things are, and how things ‘should’ be. In the case of doing business, for example, you’re pushed to be on your top game all the time, and to do so you have to follow a certain formula, follow a set of actions, or go for the ‘right’ kind of exposure to succeed. Anything else wouldn’t be worth the effort, and also beneath you. Go big or go home.

And if you don’t make it big, it’s all on you — because “if these people did it, you should be able to.” Highlight reels, right? That’s why it can be so unnecessarily pressure-filled to work towards your goals. Comparison is too easy. There’s tons of how-to’s and guides on sale to show you the way to greatness — you have no excuse to fail (Hah!)  Plus, if the nebulous ‘They’ did it, why can’t you? And when you can’t, the failures wears at you even  more.

Have you ever thought that instead of flying high, you could go low and slow, and still accomplish what you want to do?
Continue reading Zigzags, Progress, and Quiet Success

Getting Things Done Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

With everything technology has given us in the ways of getting in touch with one another, the demands that come with being always connected has set work culture up to be quite a free-for-all, one with numerous competing bids for our attention. When you can talk to anyone from anywhere, anytime, you can be reached everywhere, all the time. Unless, of course, you’ve taken precautions.

When you have a good system in place to filter those demands, that takes a weight off you. Still, there are always days where it’s all you can do to somehow slog through your workload.  It can be wearing on a daily basis, but consistently having bad days? That’s a recipe for burn out, mentally and emotionally. In that case, prevention can help things from getting worse.

Related article:  Technostress: Rise Against The Machines

Assuming that you got a good set-up going for you, what else can you do to make it easier to still get things done when you’re hit by one of those zero-motivation days?

Certainly mindfulness is a very good skill to develop. It’s something that can help you distinguish and filter out the noise from the signal. Mindfulness also helps you cut through the distractions that swarm in and eat at your focus. But since mindfulness is a practice that you can get better at over time, what other things can you do to help you focus the work you need to finish today, even when you’re really not feeling it?

Quick spot-check:

  1. Are you watered? Dehydration can lead to headaches and fogginess, you delicate flower you, and could be why you’re wilting. Coffee still counts as a liquid, but the caffeine can act as a diuretic. Go get water-water. Whether carbonated or flavored, get water. Please steer away from sodas and other sugary drinks — they’re not good for you in the long run.
  2. How’s your blood sugar? Is it crashing? Speaking of sugar, when was the last time you ate something substantial, and not artificially flavored? Do yourself a good deed and treat yourself right. It’s not just garbage in, garbage out when it comes to sustaining yourself.  Eat real food.
  3. How’s your breathing? Slumping in front of your computer screen doesn’t only play havoc with your spine, it compresses your lungs and you don’t get as much air as you need.  Go take a brisk walk, preferably outside if you can. Stretch your legs. Pull your shoulders down and back and breathe into your belly, exhaling slowly through your lips. Get your blood oxygen up.
  4. Do you need to go to the bathroom? Go to the bathroom. Wash your face and your hands while you’re at it to clear up your head and shake off the mood. Use cold water to wake yourself up. Continue reading Getting Things Done Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

How to Ease Your Everyday Pressure

Pressure is inescapable now. We’re  still have only so many hours in which we can act, but the demands on our time are endless.  One simple distinction that can help us put things in a more helpful light is this: Learning to perform under pressure isn’t the same thing as reducing the pressure we feel during the daily performance.

Time collapsed. Due to the the leveling of borders brought about by always-on connections and electronic tethers, we jam more and more into a finite box measuring 24 hours. We need to sleep, eat, and take care of ourselves and the ones who matter to us as well —  sooner or later something’s got to give, and until then it’s our nerves which bear the strain of it all. That’s why the chief pressure point is how to deal with pressure:  what can you do to lessen it, to de-pressurize without further harm to yourself or others?

Getting better at doing the job isn’t always the perfect solution, either. Usually, the reward for doing good work is more work.

No, the pressure that we want to alleviate is the one that comes from the heavy weight we look to bear every day, without any seeming relief.   It’s like a mad Greek divine tragedy: Atlas was made to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, while Sisyphus was sentenced to roll a boulder up a hill and then watch it go back down, only for him to repeat the cycle again. Every day.

Practicing mindfulness and mastery  can help us to perform better under pressure, but we need to learn to concentrate reducing the daily emotional and mental pressure as well. Both skills are needed to make the best use of your powers and time without burning out, breaking down or flying apart. Continue reading How to Ease Your Everyday Pressure

Keep Your Work Satisfaction Up With Small Daily Victories

Have you ever watched “Office Space”? What about “The Office”, in either its British or American incarnation? Popular movies and television shows like these source a lot of their material from real-life workforce experiences and complaints, and in the very best human tradition, what we can’t change, we make jokes about. After all, laughing beats crying any day.

In real-life however, using just humor to survive working in a less-than-stellar environment can only take you so far.

Two big factors in that contributes to dissatisfaction in the work place is happiness and productivity, and they’re linked. It’s easy to admit to an idle fantasy of being paid to do nothing, but from many accounts shared online, jobs where you finish early and then spend the best part of the working day staring at the walls (or playing Solitaire), or being drowned in relentless waves of paperwork, or working on projects that get nowhere, are wearing on the soul.

As seductive as the fantasy is, the truth is that we’re not really made for scut-work. Past a certain age, our own development pushes us to find meaning in the work we do, pride in it, and no small sense of satisfaction in work done well.

When you are proud of and satisfied in the work you do, you are driven to keep that streak going. And continuing this happy event contributes to your own success:  we all want to know that our time, our efforts and our energy were well spent.

One of the ways we can get in the way of our own steady string of accomplishments is the lack of commitment. Sure, it’s nice to to be appreciated. Recognition and respect are great extrinsic (that is, external) motivators, but where it counts is the inner driving of our hearts. That’s where intrinsic factors come into play.

Things get stale. You do the same things over and over, getting the same acceptable results, but, and say it with me, ” [your] heart’s just not in it anymore.”

You just do the work on autopilot and your mind wanders onto other things, the way it’s wired to do when it it doesn’t find new stimulation. Our brains do that…and this phenomenon can work against your progress if you don’t fight it.

Given that the enemy lies right in your own head, finding the reserves to commit to daily skirmishes with work-connected boredom can be quite hard. What can you do? Continue reading Keep Your Work Satisfaction Up With Small Daily Victories

Your Goals Are Just Mile-markers In Your Journey

22 July 2012, by A. Cedilla

You have a plan.

You have a lot of plans.

Some of them may have fallen through, but you pride yourself on being able to adapt when it’s needed, and you’ve adjusted quickly.

You power on, executing task after task, action after action. Your planner is full of crossed-out action items on your To-Do lists.

You have a goal.

You have a lot of goals, and because of your persistence and determination, you meet most of them, and surpassed a few.

So, how are you feeling right now? Top o’ the world, living a so-so existence, or struggling to keep your head above water?

If you did everything right, where did it go wrong? Continue reading Your Goals Are Just Mile-markers In Your Journey

On Adapting To Change

28 May 2010, by A. Cedilla

  • “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” – popular military saying
  • “Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.” – yet another popular military saying
  • “Don’t forget to bring your towel.” – Douglas Adams’s fans*

Of these three sayings, the one about the towel captures the gist of this article perfectly. It’s when the plan hits the real world that you need to keep a clear head –and your towel close. Whatever life throws at you, when you know where your towel is, you’re good to go.

Goals are not plans.
Goals are the end point, plans are what you refer to guide you there. If the terrain sudden changes on the way to your goal, you need adjust and very probably go off-book.

Forcing reality to adjust to your plans is a waste of energy. Accept the situation for what it is, without judgment, and get going. What can you realistically do to deal with the situation and turn it to your advantage? Where’s the silver lining?

Plans cannot translate to real life without action.
All the paper and diagrams in the world don’t mean squat if you do nothing to bring them to life. Your monthly goals, your yearly tracker? You still have to fill those up, they won’t write themselves. Continue reading On Adapting To Change

Pushing To Failure And The Importance of Rest

24 May 2010, by A. Cedilla

A concept in strength training, we generally understand “pushing to failure” to mean pushing out as many reps as possible while using good form, until you reach the point where you can’t keep that form. When you fail to keep good form, that’s when you know you’ve pushed enough.

Painful and tiring, pushing to failure is only the first part of the equation, the other half being rest. Muscle growth and strength gains happen after you push to failure and then rest and recover.

With awareness and intent, it’s the same with anything we put ourselves into.

  • Keep to good form (best practices, best effort, quality work) while working things out.
  • Gain strength and grow in the aftermath of stressful events, leave yourself time to rest and recover (and learn) from these events.

The important thing to remember is to choose to learn everything we can from the hard work-outs, the hard lessons, when we rest. Don’t just walk away with the memory of pain. Continue reading Pushing To Failure And The Importance of Rest

Drawing The Line: The Importance of Boundaries

07 May 2010, by A. Cedilla

Boundaries are vital. Think of them as an extra layer of protection.

Like skin, which thickens in response to pressure to form a protective callus, your boundaries keeps you shielded and functioning under stressful circumstances.

When you recognize and honor your boundaries, you’re enforcing an internal support structure that will keep you in good stead when the going gets rough.

Boundaries are like boxes for clutter.
They help keep scattered-but-related stuff in one location, so you can deal with the whole shebang in one place, and keep them in that one place. You can come back to that one place (mentally or physically) when you’re ready, refreshed or coming back with new data and fresh input.

Boundaries give you the privacy and room to regroup.
You can leave things where they are, and come back when you’re ready. When people respect your boundaries, and you return the same respect, it makes for better relationships and fewer misunderstandings.
Continue reading Drawing The Line: The Importance of Boundaries

Respond To Your Stress

03 May 2010, by A. Cedilla

While it would be nice to just have a sure-fire, once-and-for-all way of dealing with stress –one that doesn’t involve being planted six feet under ground — it’s a fact of life that what doesn’t kill us…well, sometimes makes us wish it did.

If you’ve experienced times like this, you understand just how crazy things can tangle up inside your head when you’re under pressure.

Dealing with and managing your stress is an ongoing process , not something you can solve with a one-time application, so it’s past time to let go of wishing for impossible cures.

When you get stressed on a regular basis, you need to be able to deal with it the same way: regularly and effectively.

An essential part of that coping strategy is to listen to yourself. Observe the signs of your stress, they mean something. Otherwise they wouldn’t be popping up.
Continue reading Respond To Your Stress