Lower The Bar to Raise The Bar

In these challenging times, most of us are not as motivated and focused as we usually are. Many people are experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression. Often the only relief they’re getting is by self-medicating with drinking, TV, and other forms of media.

Consider why your emotional state is where it’s at, it’s not random. Your mind is reacting to real problems that need attention.

What if our minds didn’t care about a global pandemic, an economic shutdown, isolation, life disruption, racial injustice, or social unrest? It makes sense that we’re not operating at our standard level.

However, we need to be productive, and we want to avoid excessive anxiety.

Many people find themselves in a self-defeating cycle of stress emotions that lead to reduced productivity, which leads to feeling bad about their poor productivity, which leads to lower productivity.

To start to improve your emotional state and productivity, give yourself a break and lower the bar.

Expect negative emotions and don’t expect to be at your highest level of productivity right now. Be okay with whatever mental state you’re experiencing. This acceptance will give you the space to move forward by doing easy things on your to-do list. Just get moving on something productive.

Once you get moving, your internal state improves, allowing you to work on higher priority tasks. Once we lower the bar and get moving, we can start to raise the bar.

While increased stress, distraction, alcohol, and TV are a normal part of what we’re going through, we can keep them at workable levels with the right process and mindset.

You can use VP’s 3-Steps to put “lowering the bar” into action.

Step 1: Expect the Expected – Expect negative emotions, distraction, disruption, unrest, and uncertainty for the next several months. It’s not pleasant but being mentally prepared for it while realizing we’ll get through it decreases stress and improves resilience.

Step 2: Apply SEE to emotions.

Separate – We don’t decide to feel anxious, unmotivated, and distracted; our minds release chemicals to give us messages that make us feel that way.

Embrace – Fighting or suppressing these feelings makes them worse. Thank your mind for the messages and experience your emotions knowing they’re temporary. Again, what if we had no concern about all that’s going on? Check out the science of embracing emotions in TED Talks from Dr. Susan David and Dr. Kelly McGonigal.

Evaluate – Once we separate and embrace, we can usually move to our thinking minds, even if the emotion is still present. Ask yourself what’s controllable and productive.

Step 3: Control the Controllable:

Decide the action you’ll take to be productive. When you’re unmotivated, pick something easy to do that’s still productive. Getting into action will allow you to start working on more difficult tasks. By lowering the bar to get started, you can raise the bar to work on higher priority items.

You also have control over removing some distractions and the amount of news and social media you take in. Get the information you need without overdoing it.

Keep applying the 3-Steps to lower the bar and you’ll start to see improvement in your mental state and your productivity through this challenging period and beyond.