I was chatting with my young teenage daughter this weekend about the pressures life brings. Even as a kid, there’s that pressure to get good grades, be accepted by your peers, make the team, win the game/race, get cast in the high school musical, and so on.
Pressure seems to start younger these days than it did for my generation. I don’t recall being so aware of the kind of pressure that most kids appear to feel in today’s world.
Competition and the ever-increasing abilities of young people to perform at higher and higher levels in every area are raising the bar all the time.
Pressure is here to stay. It is or is going to be a part of everyone’s life, so it’s essential to understand and develop a strategy to use pressure to one’s advantage.
It Seems We’re All Feeling a Lot More Pressure These Days
Being a professional voice over talent, business-owner, wife and mother of two children under the age of 14, I feel a nearly constant pressure to perform, in my professional and personal life, and to achieve real results on a daily basis.
That pressure (in varying degrees) has been there for as long as I can remember. Even before I had children, I felt pressure to reach my goals, earn a certain level of income, and be the type of person I wanted to be.
Pressure can be a good thing. Used effectively, it can help you achieve your results faster and more efficiently.
But, being under pressure doesn’t actually feel good most of the time. In fact, pressure probably stops many people from reaching their goals for the simple reason that it feels so uncomfortable. Attempting to reach any big goal is going to involve stepping into unfamiliar territory and putting yourself in situations that create a feeling of pressure. It’s pretty unavoidable.
Making Friends With Pressure = Easier Growth, Easier Life
I tried to explain to my daughter that pressure is a good thing as long as you make friends with it.
It can be your best friend in the way that you might have a workout partner who always “encourages” you to do three more push-ups when your body’s telling you that IT is pretty sure you’re DONE doing push-ups.
Without pressure, I think I could become very lazy and unproductive.
My husband eventually got in on this conversation with my daughter and said that he prefers to exist with what he calls “Goldilocks Pressure.”
Not too much – Too much pressure can feel overwhelming and debilitating
Not too little – Too little pressure can lead to feeling unmotivated and unproductive
Just right = A moderate amount of pressure usually leads to progress and productivity
Just moving about his day and getting things done with moderate external (or internal) pressure being applied is his most productive state. He chooses to frame pressure as more of a positive “pulling” energy which helps him reach completion of tasks, thereby causing a reduction of the pressure in the moment.
In the Short Term, Too Much Pressure Can Still Be Manageable
Lately, however, he’s been feeling a lot more pressure (as general manager of my voice over business) since we are in the midst of several business upgrades with website redesign, branding, demo production and re-tooling our marketing strategies. So, now he’s working harder and for longer hours, to “clear the decks” and get back to that Goldilocks level.
Instead of back-pedaling in a retreat mode away from the pressure, he’s responding with more action and more energy.
The danger here is that if this goes on for too long, it can become a source of burnout and exhaustion. But, for shorter time frames (weeks or in this case, even months), it can be manageable.
For me, I have learned to function well under some degree of pressure most of the time.
Maybe it’s from my live theater days, or from being in the fast paced world of LA auditions, where we actors are forced daily to get out of our comfort zones and at least try to be extraordinary. It’s an exciting and exhilarating form of pressure and it really helped me grow as an actor and as a business owner.
Even though I’m not auditioning for on-camera work in LA anymore (I moved away several years ago), I continue to use what I learned from that experience in my voiceover business. Finding and maintaining that “Goldilocks” fit is my new gold standard, as each week I’m juggling a dozen different clients and projects, managing deadlines, answering urgent requests, actively participating in social media, and checking off projects as I send them out.
What is your relationship to pressure like? Do you feel a lot more pressure in your life and business now than ever before? How do you use it to your advantage? Has pressure increased or decreased for you in recent years? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences!