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Blog: The Price of Stress

Change is inevitable; it is not a matter of if but when.  Just about the time we have things figured out and in a good rhythm, something changes – for the positive or for the negative. And for many, change, or the results of change, can be stressful.

I am a strong advocate of raising your self-awareness in order to create the best life balance for yourself and keep your stress to a minimum.  Yet, we can read all the books in the world on life-balance, but when it comes down to it we have to know ourselves, set our boundaries and have accountability to follow through.

We also have to be fluid.  Now it may sound like I am contradicting myself after mentioning boundaries; however, if we are too rigid we will “break” when life changes come. 

I was recently coaching a client about life changes. Their life significantly changed when their spouse decided to go back to work full-time.  There were pros and cons to this, but it seemed as though the cons were taking over.  One of the simple things that were causing HUGE stress was, “who was going to clean the house and cook dinner?”

You may wonder what does this have to do with leadership, but we are all holistic human beings and what affects us at home will affect our work (and vice-versa).  It is the little foxes that spoil the entire vine if we are not careful.  In this situation, they could hire a house-keeper once or twice a month for around $100 - $150.  So now the question is, “Is the price of your stress worth more or less than this dollar amount?”  Something so minor is a small investment to save a relationship.  There are other alternatives but this is just an example.

It turns out, we also have a tendency to be “predictably irrational”.  In Dan Ariely’s book, “Predictably Irrational” he gives the example of a person in an office supply store buying a $25 pen.  The person behind the customer says, “the office supply store down the street has that pen on sale for only $18.”  Most people said they would leave, drive 15 minutes to the other store for a $7 savings; however, when asked a similar question the findings were quite different.  Here is the scenario: The same customer goes into a store to buy a suit for $450.  The person in line behind him says, “That same suit is on sale at the store down the street for $443.”  Most people when asked said they would not go down the street to save the $7 on the suit.  So we are left to ask ourselves, what is irrational about this thinking?  Is our 15 minutes to go to the other store worth $7 or not.

My goal with this article is not to give a right or wrong answer for you (I already know what works for me) but rather to get you thinking about:

  • What causes stress in your life?
  • What can you do to be more fluid?
  • Where will you set your boundaries?
  • What is the cost of stress for you?

We know from a health, financial and relationship standpoint, stress comes at a very high price so it is worth your while to take a look at these areas and address them for yourself.  If you do not have a coach to help hold you accountable, consider hiring one or sharing your answers with a trusted friend and ask them to hold you accountable.

The good news is, you can just: "Start right where you are"

- Julia Cameron


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