Incremental Improvement

Starting with something a bit different today as I’ve just come out from a black hole at work for the past week and feel like I need to restart. It’s amazing how work stress can derail your life by throwing you out of your routine and off balance. Ironically, most of the stress and reactive fires are mostly irrelevant in the long run. Although you as a going concern as an employee may be at risk by completely dropping the ball, I’ve found that the tasks themselves are typically not that important ultimately and shouldn’t take prioritization over health and happiness.

So, I’ve titled this as incremental Improvement. I want to do some brainstorming about how to incrementally improve myself while not stressed so that when I get into these prolonged stressful situations (usually lasting a week) they will be less derailing. I typically work ten to twelve hours a day which may be above average to some but for me this is doable. Any more than that daily for any prolonged period leads to stress. I need a consistent seven hours of sleep to feel like I’m fully functioning and at least one to two hours in the day of unstructured thinking time so that I can organize and regulate my mindset and better process the world around me. When I don’t do this by behavior becomes more erratic and I make poor decisions which impact myself and my relationships. By and large though these impacts are not drastic but are enough to throw me off track from my long term goals such as budgeting and weight loss.

What can I do in good times to create a moat to prevent these erratic behaviors? Start by responding to stress with positive behaviors and attitudes. If I feel stress exercise by going to the gym, taking a walk, or riding the exercise bike. The brain doesn’t know a good behavior from a bad one really I think. I believe that it knows impulse and response. If I can replace a good or at least a less bad response to stimulus then when I get into periods of uncontrolled stress then I will be more likely to default to my good or at least better habitual behavior which will take me less off track from my long term goals. In association with this when stress occurs respond with better attitudes and better behavior. If there is something that someone did or externality that is impacting me that I impulsively feel angry about don’t react to it immediately. Instead, take some time to calm down through deep breathing and transcendentalist meditation techniques. Focus on decreasing my heart rate during the day as it can trigger a flight or fight response if too high for too long. Get consistent sleep or at least go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time. Drink less and stop drinking at least two hours before bed time. In addition, don’t eat right before bed as it can lead to heart burn and a poor nights rest. Balance my workload and don’t let other people push me to reacting to problems – especially those that were self inflicted. If work will impact sleep and health then set expectation that the work will take longer. If I consistently push myself past my limits it means that no work will be don’t because I will burn out and damage by relationships through emotional outbursts which may not even be the words I use but rather my facial expression, body language, and vocal tone or volume. When I am under alot of stress ensure that I spend time resting before going and doing anything in the evening. When I’ve worked over twelve hours of work and I go out to eat I tend to over spend over eat and over drink. this is a positive reinforcement loop which produces more stress and unhappiness. At the end of the day instead if I reinforce constructive beliefs and attitudes, nap or meditate to bring down my heart rate before eating out or doing anything in the evening really I will ultimately be much better off. I’ll probably even do better in my work as well. Listen to and surround yourself with positively thinking and speaking people. I’ll need all the help I can get to incrementally improve my character. Stand up straight and smile. Let people know how thankful I am that they are in my life.

When slipping up and being a little too extreme as a result of work stress don’t get upset about it. Just follow a process out of habit and eventually I’ll become subconsciously competent to pick the better and best responses to stress. Instead of expecting immediate perfection get incremental and measurable Improvement. As long as I’m still living I will have a chance to improve my character, habits, health, and relationships…and I won’t give up.

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6 thoughts on “Incremental Improvement

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