Five Effective Habits for Life's Most Uncomfortable Patterns: Fear, Worry, & Anxiety

“I can’t do this!”

“This is too much pressure.”

“The harder I try, the worse things get.”

“This always happens.”

Does this sound familiar?

Have you thought any of these same thoughts? Or heard similar comments from your athletes?

Old School Way

The ‘old school’ way of dealing with this is to tell someone to change their thoughts.

“Just have a positive attitude!”

The problem with this is it’s more of a bully approach…trying to make something that’s there go away.

For most people - if you’re in the midst of actual fear or anxiety…it does not work.

Shoving it down and not acknowledging negativity can make it worse.

Thoughts

It’s not as simple as ‘changing your thoughts’ or just trying to ‘think better thoughts’.

Thoughts are hard to stop.

  • Thoughts come.

  • Thoughts keep coming.

  • Thoughts argue with thoughts.

So, this goes deeper than thoughts.

Your body

Notice what happens in your body when you think the thought or notice the pattern.

The stories you recite in your head…how do they make you feel?

Maybe you feel it in your belly…or your chest…or there’s a heaviness in your shoulders and neck.

What you’re noticing is energy.

Fix it!

Lots of times, we want to justify it, coddle it, fix it, or make it go away.

You aren’t broken or defective.

You’re observing a pattern.

You can’t ‘think’ your way out of fear or anxiety.

You have to work with the energy.

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How to Handle 'Back to School' Overwhelm

I work with plenty of coaches who - if they're being completely honest - struggle with feeling overwhelmed...especially at the beginning of the season.

No matter how well you've planned (or if you haven't planned at all)...and no matter how rested you feel (or if you don't feel rested at all)...the strong feelings of overwhelm can hold you back, keep you stuck, and impact the longevity of your coaching career.

Unexpected Challenges

Let's face it...the number of unexpected things you never imagined you'd have to deal with are there all of a sudden staring you square in the face. Then, you're expected to handle these situations having had no prior experience. Ready? Set? Go!

The feeling - and sometimes the brevity - is truly something you can't explain to the people in your life who aren't coaches. Your athletes certainly don't get the breadth of what you do.

The thing that can hold coaches back the most are the judgements that accompany the feelings. And the feelings of loneliness and isolation that stem from the added pressure you put on yourself...to have it all done and done perfectly.

Can you relate?

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Dealing With Feedback, Criticism, and Complaints

At the end of the season, you’re going to get feedback from your athletes, staff, and administration.

A lot of coaches - consciously or unconsciously - have a lot of stress during this time.

Couple that with the fact you’ve had a long season…and probably not much of a break.

How do you respond to criticism - from your athletes, parents, administrators, or other coaches?

Sorry to be the downer...and I'm letting you know there will always be people who judge and criticize you for actions you take and decisions you make. 

You can't escape cricitism!

It doesn't matter how hard you work, how perfect you are, or what level of success you reach...there will always be someone there to judge you.

How do you respond?

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Do Your Excuses Interfere With Your Vacation?

I encourage the coaches I work with to schedule their vacations and downtime FIRST...and schedule the rest of the season around that.

It’s one of the hardest conversations that we have!

I get a lot of push back, resistance, and excuses.

Here are some typical responses (I'm wondering if you can relate?):

  1. THE NON-COMMITTAL COACH: "I can't commit to a vacation. There are way too many things that might come up."

  2. THE 'IF THEN' COACH: "If we do well enough this season, then I'll see if I can take some time off."

  3. THE PROCRASTINATOR: "I promise I'll schedule my vacation…'later'."

RESISTANCE TO VACATION IS PART OF OUR CULTURE

If you have a hard time taking vacation, you're not alone. 

In fact, the majority of Americans don't even use their hard-earned vacation time. 

Did you know that in 2015, 55 percent of Americans combined to leave 658 million vacation days unused. (GfK KnowledgePanel®)?

‘Work martyr’ an actual term. It’s a belief that vacations are difficult to take because:

  • No one else can do the work while I'm away

  • I want to show complete dedication to my job

  • I don't want others to think I'm replaceable

  • I feel guilty for using my time off

It's time to change this culture!

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Do you make space for level three conversations?

It was day 2 of a 3 day competition. Samantha (Sam) walked over to her friend, Tonya - who coached at a different school - as both of their teams were stretching and warming up.

Tonya asks, "How are you?"

Sam responds (knowing she'd have to get back to her athletes in a matter of minutes), "I'm doing (she paused)...good I guess." 

In reality, she wasn't doing well...and Tonya knew at least some of the background. 

In April, they had been to the same coaching summit and had one of the most pivotal conversations of Sam's coaching career so far.

She hadn't realized how much her and Tonya had in common - until they actually had a chance to talk.

Both been through similar challenges that year with their head coach. Both had been at a crossroads - with decisions they needed to make about a next step along their coaching journey.

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Do your excuses interfere with your vacation?

I encourage the coaches I work with to schedule their vacations and downtime FIRST...then schedule the rest of the season around that.

Here are some typical responses. (I'm wondering if you can relate?)

THE NON-COMMITTAL COACH

  • "Are you joking?"
  • "I can't commit to that. There are way too many things that might come up."
  • "You're kidding, right?!"

THE 'IF THEN' COACH

  • "If we do well enough this season, then I'll see if I can take some time off."
  • "If we sign three recruits this fall, I'll schedule something in the spring."
  • "If I can keep my assistant coach here for another season, I'll make sure to get that in."

THE PROCRASTINATOR

  • "I can't do it right now. I don't have any bandwidth to think about that right now."
  • "I promise I'll schedule my vacation 'later'."
  • "I'll find time for some rest...as long as nothing else important comes up."

IT'S PART OF OUR CULTURE

If you have a hard time taking vacation, you're not alone. The majority of Americans don't use their hard-earned vacation time. In 2015, 55 percent of Americans combined to leave 658 million vacation days unused. (GfK KnowledgePanel®)

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