How do you feel about being under pressure?
Does it feel like having a gun stuck into your ribs?
Maybe you feel like the heroes in Star Wars as they watched the walls close in on them. The threat of imminent death is a powerful motivator, isn’t it?
Worse still, if you’re an introvert like me, pressure feels like an intense shortage of air in your lungs. Your brain feels trapped, and rebels at the thought of having to act right this second.
The problem is we are all subject to time. With that in mind, there is no escaping from some sort of time pressure.
It’s when we’re aware of it that we hate it the most.
If you’re at a party with as many friends as you can stand, time seems to fade away. But if someone’s pointing a gun at your ribs, your next move could mean life or death.
Most of us don’t face that kind of time pressure.
But sometimes we do. For example, has your boss ever told you that he needs this report right now? He doesn’t care that you have a thousand other things to do. Or maybe your daughter wants you to play right now. In her mind, your report can wait. Do you give in, or tell her you’ll get to her in a little bit?
Life is full of tough choices.
Your mother probably never said life would be easy. But didn’t she try to make it that way for as long as she could? After all, she probably loved you and wanted the best for you.
Then, before you knew it, you became an adult. You didn’t have anyone to make most of your choices for you anymore. You had to learn to navigate the murky waters of life yourself. Sure, you stumbled sometimes. But just like you learned to walk, you learned to fend for yourself so you could keep your nose above water.
Since you can’t escape time pressure, how can you keep it from being an imminent threat? How can you convince yourself it’s a good thing when inside you just want to run away and soak in a hot tub?
There are at two good reasons to love time pressure.
First, it forces you to dig deep into your well of resources.
We all have a desire to survive. Any threat to that makes your head spin. Rather than drown in the commotion, use that energy to envision the solution you want. Pursue it like your life depends on it.
Because who knows, it just might.
Second, when you flex your mental muscles, you get stronger.
The main reason we struggle with any exercise program is we’re afraid we’ll get sore. Then once our muscles torment us because we momentarily overused them, we run in the other direction.
The sad result is we miss out on a golden chance to grow.
What if you could do it differently? You might just need to adjust the route to your destination. Don’t throw away your decision to go there. Don’t let bad traffic keep you from going to work.
We shy away from deep thinking because it’s exhausting. Think of it more as a sprint than a marathon. If you pace yourself in this way, with a few bursts here and there, you’ll have the stamina to see your journey through.
Time pressure is here to stay. Make the choice to face it with gusto instead of letting it drive you crazy. Fight the good fight. You’ll get more out of life, and you’ll make a better world for everyone around you.