Want To Reduce Stress? Embrace Reality!

January 10, 2013


Reduce stress

Image courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever spent a lot of time and energy trying to transform your situation into what you think it should be, but everyone keeps doing what they have always done? You could be trying to convince people to follow a process, use a tool, improve how they work or even just fix something. Even if everyone agrees there is a problem, the team continues to default to what we know. The result: you’re stressed out, frustrated, wondering why you’re not making progress and feel helpless to effect any change.

When you find yourself in this situation, take a deep breath and consider a different point of view. While you may have a very clear vision of how things should be, there may be a better way to achieve it. Stop, take a step back and do a reality check. What is your team’s culture? What do they do best? Take an honest look at what is working for your team, even if you don’t agree with it.

To reduce your stress, embrace reality and come up with better ways to accept it. In the long run, you will succeed in changing your reality.

This story will help illustrate this concept.  I once worked with an Art Director who spent over two years trying to get several product development teams to use a common technology the same way.  Having everyone use the technology the same way made it easier for the art department to do their jobs.  They could work the same way across all the projects, making it easy to move artists from project to project as demands changed.  Artistically, it would also be easier to meet a consistent level of quality.  After a lot of frustration and very little progress, he eventually realized that the product development teams had to customize how they used the technology.  His energy would be better spent developing a common workflow for the artists that can accommodate the various ways their customers worked.  It was much easier to make those changes and, in the end, he helped his team get much closer to the original goal.

This philosophy can even be easily applied in your personal life.  Whether you are having problems with your partner, family, finances or career, consider taking an honest look at reality, embrace it, and put your energy into coming up with solutions that accept that reality.  You will reduce your stress and be happier with the results.

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About Liza Wood

After a dozen years leading video game development projects in a variety of roles, I decided to pursue a Master of Data Science at the University of British Columbia. Studying data science doesn’t mean I’m moving away from leading people. Growing data science teams need collaborative, pragmatic, Agile leadership to connect data to all areas of the business. I would like to share that point of view, along with my experiences, on this blog.

View all posts by Liza Wood

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7 Comments on “Want To Reduce Stress? Embrace Reality!”

  1. elinorslomba Says:

    brilliant! May I repost this on Artbux?


  2. Geneviève Gélinas Says:

    Ah! Very pertinent, but at first I thought you were going to (more directly) discuss deadlines :^P


    • Liza Says:

      I hadn’t thought of deadlines specifically, but the same logic does apply. Many teams try to fight or deny the reality of the deadline, getting stressed out in the process. It’s better to embrace the reality that the deadline is not going to move and make decisions accordingly.


  3. Colette B Says:

    Your article illustrates this concept very well and your closing paragraph sums up perfectly the only way I ever found of my stress levels finally dropping. Common sense really, but isn’t always easy to apply the theory in practice especially when the stressors cause vicious cycles affecting health…



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