Last week, I seriously doubted my ability to succeed. On top of my already demanding workload, I signed up for an examination based course, with little time to revise. As this blog is about reframing negatives to positives, you might be wondering what the positives of this situation are – I was certainly questioning that as I desperately tried to revise at 6am last Monday morning!
What struck me about this extra level of pressure, was that being tested was the positive. It was a chance for me to rise to the challenge, and feel a different type of pressure. Normally the most common pressure I feel at work is my ability to get everything done. This was different, the test was about my ability, and whether I knew everything I thought I did.
I realised that although revising for an exam had its downsides, it was enjoyable to have a reason to focus entirely on one task, even for just 2 days.
To help me:
- I asked my family for help – I told them I was nervous and needed kind words
- I asked my “work family” for help – I asked them to cover some of my work for a couple of days to give me enough time to revise
- I focused, stripping out anything not essential to the exam, just for a couple of days
The whole experience made me realise that just focusing on one thing, losing myself in the learning and the stimulation of challenging myself to learn something new was a break from the day to day pressures of my job.
From a neuroscience perspective, the positives I gained from the stress of taking an exam could be predicted:
- I was experiencing eustress – good stress, because it releases energy and motivates me
- Positive expectations – the enjoyment from testing myself via the exam was more positive than I was expecting – it releases dopamine in the brain which creates energy and motivation
- Achievement – each time I got a question right, I was able to celebrate, I could see measurable progress in my learning, and that made me feel good about myself, which fed my desire to try another question and get more of these good feelings
It was made me realise that if I looked on some of my “normal” work from the perspective of it being a mini-test, I could gain these benefits more often. For example, when I prepare a presentation, each slide (visual and words) is the same as passing an exam question – I have found the answer so I have been successful, and creating the answer is a good stress, it challenges me and motivates me.
For more articles in this series https://agilechangemanagement.co.uk/category/reframing-the-negatives-to-positives/
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