When you're entering a situation that will be stressful you can prepare for it before you ever get there. Even emotionally. Front- Loading is a way to prevent harmful things from happening and have a way to move away from them if they do. Moving Backward from things that harm you in life will help you to feel less stress preventing the Fight or Flight Stress response to be healthier and happier.
Grab a pencil and some paper. Let's get started.
It Starts Before You Get There
The first step to frontloading is recognizing what's triggering your anxiety. Is it a situation, a person, past experience, or just a possibility? Whatever it is begin by writing down the "thing" that is triggering your anxiety.
The next step is to get to the core need that is being threatened. The way to do this is to ask why five times to drill down to that one need. However, if more than one of your needs is threatened write those down too.
Having A Way To Protect Your Need
Now you know your exact need being threatened you can begin to explore ways to keep in safe. By applying some creativity you can brainstorm ways to recover your need instead of being left with it broken. It helps to minimize and prevent stress as well as set you up for success. You can also feel confident knowing you are doing a great thing by respecting your needs.
Keeping Up With Work
Honestly, the thing that causes me the most stress in life is my job. And more specifically the people I work with. I took my job thinking most of what I would do is the things I went to school for. Over the years I've learned the reality is I don't get paid to do the thing I got a degree in and most of my job is spent managing relationships with the people I work with. Schools didn't prepare me for office conflicts.
I've found much of the challenges I face are because they simply don't know how hard it is to do what I do. I found what triggered me was how people would ask me to do more they didn't respect what I do. They were threatening my Esteem Need. So I front-load.
How I Front-Loaded:
To protect my need every chance I get I now somehow use the chance to talk through my process, I would give current lead times and constraints if there were any. I frame it in a positive way but education has become my profession. The rest is what I tell people I do. And how I go about doing my job. So that when I'm asked to do more they know what they're really asking me to do. And they've learned to respect what I do.
Traveling & Jet Setting
I travel a lot for work and I noticed how I would get edgy. One time I even got into a fight with the lady behind me. I'm not a fan of change. But really who is? And every time I travel everything changes. The only thing that's known is what I put in my bag. Wether I get it is whole other issure. Needless to say, traveling is always stressful. Things like where I'm going to eat is my room going to be comfortable, and how do I get there are just a few of the countless decisions I have to make.
Once I asked why a few times I realized I was mostly tired from getting up early and all they walking to my flight.
How I Front-Loaded:
So I try to make as many decisions as I can before I ever get there. I even pack snacks because I know I'll turn into a diva when I'm hungry. If it's a red-eye I know I'll need a day to recover. If I can I try to have evening plans so I have a way to go to bed a little early. I also get overwhelmed by all the stimulas causing me mental fatigue so I put togethere a play list I listen to when standing in line and boarding. Some nice light music or listeingn to one of my favorite movies has taken the edge off.
Pack To School
No one ever told me how many times you start something new in school. I mean every year is a new grade with new rooms, seats, friends, teachers, and subjects. And as soon as you get it figured out it starts over again. The part that caused the most stress was my grades and making new friends.
Cause I found it threatened my esteem and love and belonging needs. So I did a couple of things to frontloaded was as soon as I got the textbook I starting getting into the subject before I ever got to the classroom. I mean I knew I was going to be tested on it at some point anyway so why not get out in front of it. And as soon as I made this change it changed everything. When it was presented in the classroom it wasn't scary anymore. It was now a review. And it was how I recovered my esteem need.
How I Front-Loaded:
It was also my freshman year. So I set a plan to meet a few freinds befor and after school. It gave us a chance to be reminded. new grade. New subject.
Conflict With Karens & Kens
I work with a Karen. No, I mean her name is actually Karen and she's known for being the type who manages people extremely well. Unfortunately, she is not great at much else. The problem is we work at a start-up and everyone's asked to be both a player and a coach. But Karen's never really swung a bat. One of her strategies is to find ways to have other people pinch-hit for her. To find people to do her work. The way she does it is to "grab a coffee" to get them comfortable then ask this one question. " if you could do anything within the company you're not currently doing what would you want to do?" And to sell them on a dream of doing what they enjoy. So they share some idea of the exciting responsibility they would do doing what they love. And then she finds where their dream aligns with her responsibilities. And then bam! It just happened. Sharing in their excitement she says she'll talk to their direct about a "growth opportunity" for them. And before they know it they're knocking it out of the park while she's rounding the bases sliding into home. Simply put, she was great at her job because she had found ways for others to do it. And when I was new to the company I fell for it. She got me. I had no idea this was even a thing. But at some point, I realized I'd been worked and it started to boil up.
I decided my Physical Need was threatened because I had to do more work and my Transcendence Need because I felt I had been taken advantage of. I felt there had been a sense of injustice.
How I Front-Loaded:
The Transcendence need was the hardest part for me. I'm a high-character guy and she was everything I was against. I believe in hard work and learning things and treating people fairly, She took advantage of my newness. It was just wrong and I felt she needed to be called out. But then I realized that in order for someone to do this to me and others she most likely has some sort of personality disorder. It's how many incorporate get to the positions they are in if they don't have a core skill set. At a minimum, she significantly lacked empathy. This means no matter how I called her out she would not take it as a benefit to her. No matter how great my approach was it would only make her feel like she needed to defend herself and justify her reasoning. It would probably sound something like "I just wanted to see you grow into your best version and help you progress in your career." Otherwise known as the "Growth opportunity" which is often corporate-speak for more work same pay. So I led with a little compassion knowing she had most likely suffered some trauma or abuse causing her to not develop the ability to understand how others feel. It might not be all her fault. And she needed help. But it probably wasn't going to be much of it. And it's not appropriate in a professional setting. This helped me recover my Transcendence need because I no longer felt I needed to right a wrong. I'm not going to change her character. What's more, is she's not responsible for meeting my needs. That's my responsibility. But what I can do is stand up for my Transcendent Needs in a professional way and not let her take advantage of me. And this is how it went.
I jotted down a simple script. I let her know that I was really excited about the opportunity and I thanked her for thinking of me but I would be over-committing to my current responsibilities and I would need to bow out. It would mean If I were to take on the new role I would be letting other teams down not by not being able to complete projects by the target timelines. I even had my phone ready in case she needed to see my actual calendar. I protected my physical need by explaining current commitments.