Making pressure work for you

Heart rate monitor

Shift your approach to pressure situations. Stop thinking about pressure as something unhelpful and start using it to help you perform at your best.

This tool will help you to perform better under pressure by helping you check in with how you think about, talk about and approach pressure situations.

Reading time: 4 minutes

What will it do?

This tool will help you to perform better under pressure by helping you check in with how you think about, talk about and approach pressure situations. It will help you build a simple way of approaching pressure situations and it will put you in control of your performance when the pressure’s on. It’ll give you a focus for 2 weeks at a time, so by the time 6 weeks are up, you’ll have built a complete plan.

Use the tool to build a simple approach and then when all the pieces are in place, use the whole plan every time you’re in a pressure situation.

Three steps to take

Get focused on the things that will make the most impact for you

1.Give yourself a pressure situation score

This will help you build your plan (and see how much you improve in the future). A score of 1 means the statement isn’t you. A score of 10 means the statement describes you perfectly.

1-10 score
When the pressure’s on, I focus just on the things I can control and I ignore things that are immediately out of my control
I know when I’m in a pressure situation that I’m always focused on reasons I should be confident that I can get the job done
I always have a clear picture in my mind of how I want to use any pressure to help me find out stuff about myself that I can’t find out when I’m just doing day-to-day stuff
I know the different situations that are coming up for me in advance, so pressure situations are never a surprise or something to worry about
I’d say that whenever pressure is around, I enjoy seeing how well I can use it to my advantage

Now, scores on the doors time. If you’re at least 8 out of 10 on all of these that’s brilliant. Your attitude to pressure is where it needs to be and your job is to keep it there and make sure it’s consistent (spread the love if you know of anyone else who isn’t quite so good under pressure). If you score less than 8 on any of them, you’ve got a bit of work to do. If you’re below 5 on any of them, at least you’re in the right place to do something practical to change the scores. Use the scores on questions 1, 2, and 3 to help you decide your plan of attack.

2. So, what’s the story in improving your scores?

You’ll need to do a bit of groundwork and go through step 3 a few times over the coming weeks with a different focus each time. First though, you need to decide the order in which you’re going to build your ‘Bring on the Pressure’ plan.

So, you’ve got three areas to work on and you need to decide which order you’re going to build the plan in. Use the boxes to write down the order.

  • Increase feeling in CONTROL when the pressure’s on
  • Increase feeling CONFIDENT when the pressure’s on
  • Increase focus on STUFF TO FIND OUT when the pressure’s on

3. Great. So, it’s time to focus on the 2 weeks ahead

Select JUST ONE of the topics from CONTROL, CONFIDENCE or STUFF TO FIND OUT and select your focus to test out in every pressure opportunity for the next 2 weeks.

Chosen things to focus on
Select the things you’re going to stay focused on staying in control of when you’re in a pressure moment – breathing calmly, slowing down my self-talk, following a clear plan, not getting ahead of myself, controlling my body language
Create some specific reasons why you should be confident in your ability when you’re in a pressure moment. List the details of specific skills and knowledge you’ve got, past occasions when you’ve delivered well, great feedback you’ve had in the past, stuff you’ve recently become more skillful at, work you’ve done that means you’re ready.
Select some stuff you want to find out about from this pressure situation. Get a helpful attitude by listing any of: opportunities you might open up, specific people you’re excited about working with, knowledge you’re going to gain, new ideas you want to test out, how the event might help you achieve personal goals.

Remember, just one of the 3 to focus on for two weeks, and when you’ve worked through all 3, you’ll have some great ingredients in your pressure recipe.

Your plan

Get a plan Stan. The basics you need to have in your plan are set out below.

Plan basics

  1. What are you going to do? This bit is easy – it’s the 3 steps listed above. No 3 is particularly helpful here

    My actions:

  2. When are you going to start? You don’t have to be great to get going, but you better get going if you want to be great.

    My start date:

  3. How often do want to repeat the process you? Getting great has a lot to do with making things a habit.

    Check in dates:

Get serious

The difference between having a plan and making it work is about action. So get this in your diary now. Tell the people who need to know so that they can support you and won’t just think you’re being weird. Do it now.

Remember, it’s progress not perfection. You’re looking for gradual improvement, not for Rome to be built in a day.