a simple formula for life


Any athlete wanting to improve their ability - let’s say their powerlift PB - has got to challenge themselves by applying some ‘stressor’ and then follow it with a period of recovery.   Too much stress and not enough rest, they get an injury and burnout. Not enough stress or too much rest, they become bored and stagnate.  Fitness training in this way improves performance – alternate between periods of stress and rest.  Here’s the interesting bit - this formula is applicable across all areas of life!  

Stress + Rest = Growth

It’s as simple and as hard as that.  Here are two quick examples.

Grow Your Career  When I coach a client who desires more from work, I start by asking where they want to be in their careers and what they are doing to get there.  People at work (including myself) can fall into one of two traps: either they get stuck in a rut, going through the motions or they take on so much that they become overwhelmed and exhausted.  Neither is conducive to career satisfaction or progression.

Instead, it is better to gradually challenge (‘stress’) them in the direction they want to grow.  This involves being nudged out of their comfort zone but then pausing to rest and reflect. What went well? What didn’t go well? What could you do differently next time?   Sure, career progression is more complex than going from squatting 40 to 42kgs - it’s harder to dial in the right amount of ‘stress’.  Instead, it requires taking on a new task that feels ‘just’ manageable – it must be challenging but not so stressful that it causes insomnia!   After the challenge, reflect and take the next logical step.  Much like a muscle grows in between challenging workouts, career growth is more sustainable if you respect the need to rest and reflect between challenges.

Grow Your Relationships  The growth formula also applies to our friendships and romantic relationships.  Bonds strengthen after two people experience a challenging event and then recover from it.  But too much ‘stress’ without enough recovery and the relationship can flame out.    Some stressors occur naturally, like too many bills arriving at once leaving a couple financially stretched trying to make ends meet – if this temporary, then the experience can strengthen their bond as they get through tough-times together.   Other stress can and should be created and these include the fun challenges, like white-water rafting with friends – or any activity that is outside their comfort zone, provides a sense of accomplishment and creates fond memories.  

Do you desire personal growth?   Pick an area of your life – where are you now and where do you want to be?  Do you need to be in a state of stress, taking on “just-manageable” challenges OR in a state of rest and reflection?  Align your behaviour accordingly.  If you desire personal growth but feel stuck or the idea of life coaching appeals, then work with a clinical psychologist.  Life is too short to be mediocre.   Ask us how.

by Lydia Rigano