Your Route to the Top: Work off your worries

Pick your battles. Losing sleep over next week's pitch? Channel nervous energy into those things you can control (such as knowing your figures inside-out) and put everything you can't influence (eg, your client's mood) out of mind.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Change your mind. Optimists outperform their glass-half-empty counterparts, according to psychologist Martin Seligman. If negative thoughts leave you paralysed with self-doubt, reframe your challenge. Replace 'this is impossible' with 'this is an opportunity to learn' and defy the naysayers.

Use your allies. Market research firm Gallup found that having a good friend at work fosters sustained performance. Whether it's reassurance that your strategy makes sense, or a pep talk before your review, seek the support of a trusted ally.

Hide away. Close the door, minimise your e-mail browser, unplug the phone, disable all channels through which worry might ambush you.

Say yes to stress. In a survey of Londoners, nine out of 10 said they experienced stress at work, yet 50% were happy with their worklife. How so? Research by endocrinologist Hans Selye (1907-82) found that a healthy level of stress actually boosts performance. Relish your racing heart and reap the rewards.

Regain perspective. Recognise that even your most feared outcome (missing a deadline, losing a client, bombing in front of the board) is unlikely to be your downfall. Think what really matters to you (your children's happiness, your partner's health, being inspired) and feel your mountains shrink to molehills.

Do something. In the midst of panic, taking action provides much needed distraction, a sense of progress, and a feeling of control - all of which lead to increased calmness. Identify one thing that will help you move towards your goal, then stop dithering and do it.

- The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99 -

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