Goldilocks says stress should be just right

25 Jan 2011 | written by Chris Finken for the Small Business Tips section(s)

Goldilocks says stress should be just right

Stress is like the Goldilocks of business.  You can’t have too much or it’ll drive you nuts, and you can’t have too little or you’ll never get anything done.  What we all need (and have a hard time finding) is the ideal medium-amount of stress that is, in Goldilocks terms, not too hot, not too cold, but “juuuuuuust right.” Stress is good, and even essential, to keeping us motivated, to keeping employees productive, to keeping small business afloat and growing.  Here are three tips to help find that elusive balance between too much stress and not enough.

First, predict and prevent stressful situations.

I used to spend five full minutes every morning looking for my wallet.  Frantically searching for it was a ridiculously predictable part of my morning routine.  Once I predicted that this would keep being a problem for me, I started to prevent the problem by intentionally putting my wallet in the same place all the time.  I double-check it’s there before I go to sleep, and ta-da!  My mornings are a little less stressful because of it.  This predict-and-prevent trick can work wonders in your business.  For example, if your monthly inventory process drives you nuts and you always end up resenting that it takes longer than you expect it to, you can probably predict that this month, it will drive you crazy too.  So use that prediction toprevent the stressful situation from developing.  Set aside a day and a half instead of just one day.  Ta-da!  Less stress.

Second, develop good working relationships.

Whether it’s with co-workers, the UPS guy, or just the computer customer service dude, if you work on planet earth, you interact with other people as part of your job.  And if you interact with people, there will be mistakes, there will be emergencies, and there will be problems.  The trick?  Be nice to everyone you deal with.  If you are nice and friendly, other people will be nice and friendly.  And nice, friendly people are not only cooler, they are also less miserable, less uptight, and less likely to experience skyrocketing stress levels when things don’t go as planned.

Third, have meaningful  but flexible goals.

A totally stress-free business is neither realistic nor ideal.  We all need to have some pressure to perform well, and that is most easily measured with clear, meaningful goals that can be adjusted if circumstances change.  Having something to aim for helps you stretch without collapsing.

Sounds juuuuuuust right to me.

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