Steve works in a start-up technology company that is changing quickly. He loves his work and his coworkers, who together have built this company from the ground up. He prides himself on working long hours and moving from project to project without missing a beat. He realizes that he can’t go on like this forever, and that new people are joining the company each week, but he is convinced that his brains and work ethic will keep him cranking along no matter how many rock stars keep getting hired.
Steve came to me because he began to realize that the things that bring him the most joy - making good money, doing great work - don’t seem to have the same pop that they used to. Also, Steve is feeling pressure to keep performing at a high level, so the little sleep he has been getting now includes a racing mind as he plays out hypotheticals that leave him feeling anxious and worried about job security. His work is suffering during the day and he is making mistakes that he shouldn’t make. Steve got called out by the CTO, his friend, for fumbling some recent work.
We began our work together by verbalizing these worries and addressing the issue of control. Namelly, what, specifically, was in Steve’s control and what was not. We decided to leave the “out of control” list aside and focus solely on what he had direct control over. Once we were able to shed some of the noise, we did a brainstorm about how to go after what he could control. We connected this task to what Steve valued about himself and what he wanted out of his work. Steve quickly was able to develop a hierarchy and prioritize his game plan. Steve learned to use this system at work so that, in each moment, he could either add something to his list, or set it aside because it was not in his control. This allowed him to be more decisive and tactical during the chaos of each day and not waste precious bandwidth on what was not in his control. We also introduced breath training as a new habit to add to his morning routine. Steve uses a Navy Seal technique called “Box Breathing”, and he practices it first thing in the morning. This is now a habit for Steve, and he is using it when he feels his stress level rising throughout the day.
These simple, yet powerful tools have helped Steve feel more in control of his day. He now has a few practical, easy to implement skills that don’t require much time or energy to practice. Most important to Steve, he now feels that he has a response no matter what comes his way. Steve’s positive experience implementing this basic tools has him eager to add even more to his repertoire moving forward.