How to stress less and achieve your goals

10 steps to achieving your goals the relaxed way

piggy bank

Not dealing with the bills, not progressing with our careers, not making that important phone call. There are lots of things in life which stress us out and we know we’d feel better if we got on and did them but often we don’t.

The effects of long term stress can be unpleasant. Bad digestion, poor sleep, lowered immunity and trouble making decisions can all be effects of stress. So when we know what it is that’s stressing us out why don’t we get on and deal with it?

You might know that your life would be less stressed if you changed job, got on top of your finances or adopted a healthier lifestyle but that doesn’t mean it feels achievable. When you’re already feeling stressed or anxious goals can feel impossible. Stress and anxiety can feel exhausting and you might feel like you just don’t have the energy to deal with it. But there is a way to reduce the overwhelm and make your plans happen.

1. Relax

Relax regularly to give yourself the spare energy and capacity to make the changes. Once you’re feeling calmer and more relaxed the mountain you felt you needed climb might feel more like a big hill. When you’re relaxed you have greater access to the less emotional part of your brain which can help you find practical solutions to achieving your goals. See tips on ways to relax

2. Keep it small

Start small and build up. Rome wasn’t built in a day, a cliché because it’s true. Little wins will pave the way to your ultimate goal. Change what you can today and make a plan for rest.

3. Make a plan

Make a step by step plan of how you’re going to achieve the change. Make the steps as small, specific and manageable as possible. Remember one small step for man equals one giant leap for..

man writing

4. Write it down

Don’t keep it all in your head, your brain won’t thank you. When you keep your to do list in your head you’re giving your brain unfinished business which it feels obliged to resolve. Hence all the time spent chewing it over. Instead write down your plan in as much detail as you can. Once it’s all down on paper your brain doesn’t feel the same compulsion to remind you about it in the middle of the night.

5. Rehearse

Spend some time mentally rehearsing your next step. Close your eyes and imagine seeing yourself doing the next step. Studies show that if you imagine seeing yourself doing something it makes it more likely that you will follow through and do it.

Imagine it in as much detail as possible using all your senses. Where are you, what does it look like, sound like, smell like?

6. Start

Get started on the next step. Tell yourself you’re going to do it for 5 minutes. Once you get started you’ll most likely find you carry on for longer and get more done. Remember your brain is wired to complete things once it’s started.

7. Tick it off

Tick off the steps as you do them. Feel the satisfaction of making progress and watch all those ticks build up. It sounds juvenile but being able to see your progress helps motivate you to carry on.

woman dancing

8. Wiggle

Make sure your plan has some wiggle room. Even athletes have colds and play hooky occasionally. Think of your progress as a graph. If in general the line is going up that’s good enough, you’re not a robot.

9. Relax

Make sure you include time to relax and recharge. When you’re relaxed and refreshed you’re more efficient at everything else.

10. Recalibrate

If you find yourself getting anxious remind yourself of your plan, take it out and look at it. Remember how far you’ve come. Savour those ticks. Imagine seeing yourself doing the next step and carry on.

As long as you’re moving forward, bit by bit you’ll get there.

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