Everyone wants to be happy and feel well, and most of us have made some kind of a conscious effort toward a better life at some point. Maybe you've often reflected upon ways to improve your overall well-being. Maybe you've read books on physical health, closely observed your needs, and made deliberate changes to your lifestyle. Maybe you've slept longer and exercised more, eaten less sugary or processed foods, or practiced mindfulness.
At work, maybe your employer has given some great benefits for keeping you healthy and productive, some tasks have been reorganized, meetings have been restructured, and break activities have been added.
If any of this sounds familiar, great! As a result, you've no doubt gotten closer toward your well-being goals. Initiatives like these demonstrate that people have a desire to reach higher and change things for the better.
However, it's inevitable that, from time to time, we have to encounter stressful or anxiety-inducing situations. Even if we've made positive changes to our state of well-being, we can't control everything in our environment. Things we consider important will occasionally cause negative feelings: the ill health of a close relative will cause fear, the demands of a customer at work will cause frustration, and public speaking at an important celebratory event will make us feel uneasy.
We might acknowledge that unpleasant events are a part of life, but once undesirable thoughts and feelings take ahold of us, our decision-making is affected. When we're stressed, our brain gets clogged and our ways of recovering are forgotten. After a long day of work, we don't feel like exercising. The uneasiness will make us feel worthless, which may be reflected in our relationships. We lash out at our loved ones, because they don't understand us.
Uncomfortable feelings and thoughts affect our actions in several ways, oftentimes without notice. Occasionally, this makes it harder for us to do things we consider important.
A good life builds itself upon the execution of meaningful actions. How should you navigate through the challenges these actions present? And in such a way that we remain capable of making good decisions in accordance with our own values? The latest research in psychology has brought a few key skills to the forefront.
Having well-defined, understandable goals that connect to the bigger picture is crucial, as it allows for meaningful goals. Our chances of success are amplified when our goals are clearly defined. Conversely, in the absence of clarity, we tend to act on our impulses.
Having a strong ability to focus on the task at hand, for longer periods of time, and in spite of external or internal disturbances, is a strong predictor of high performance.
It's vital we stay persistent when working toward our goals in spite of any obstacles. On the other hand, it's equally as important to know when to change course and try another approach when our current one is failing us. The biggest mental barrier for improved performance is staying on autopilot.
Research shows these areas improve both overall workplace well-being and work performance, as well as creativity and the act of learning itself. These skills are also relevant in easing various kinds of symptoms like burnout. They've been proven to work for a range of situations and what's best — they're learnable, improvable skills.
Imagine being in the middle of making a big decision. This decision carries a lot of weight in achieving an important goal. You have a clear mental image of what you aim to achieve. The goal is important and you've clearly set out why it needs to get done. Now you're faced with picking one of two options:
- Option A would make you concerned about what your friends and family think, as you know you'd be faced with having to justify your choice. On the other hand, Option A would take you significantly closer toward your longer-term goals.
- Option B seems easy. Your friends and family would be perfectly content with your choice, and it wouldn't raise any alarm bells. You'd avoid an uncomfortable talk or two, but it wouldn't take you nearly as close toward your goals compared to Option A.
Which option would you choose?
This might sound easy, but looks can be deceiving: it requires a lot of practice. With the Aatos program, you'll learn the key skills mentioned above to help you make better long-term decisions and, as a result, live a more meaningful life. Even when life throws you a curveball, these skills will help you stay on track. In addition to helping you with major decisions, our program can help you with minor practical things, as well. Aatos will teach you tools for getting closer toward your goals in spite of internal or external factors that are outside of your control.
Stay tuned for part two, where we'll talk more about Aatos' underlying framework, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy!