Submitted by Sharon Katz, Performance/Wellness, Training, & Coaching, Main Line Psychological Resources, LLC

OK…so the re-org finally happened, the negotiations on hold for the summer have picked back up, your first child just left for college, you will soon be traveling more for business, no one has any idea how Thanksgiving is going to work this year…and so on. Welcome to the start of academic year 2012 – 2013, a time filled with promise – and with stress!

Here are 7 tips to help you navigate this academic year more successfully.

1. Embrace and champion change.  Change provides the opportunity to learn, to grow, to succeed.  It is a process to be managed.  At the start, expect to feel unsure.  Carefully identify what you cannot control, then prepare to move forward with what you can control.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help or support.  Change your behaviors one step at a time so you are not overwhelmed.  Practice new skills until they become familiar.  When you stumble (and you will), hold your head high and try a new approach.   Enjoy what you discover along the way, and revel in your ultimate mastery of the change.  Congratulations!

2. Engage your emotional intelligence.  Know yourself, inside and out – this is not easy to do. We all have unconscious motives that lurk in the background; try to make these conscious.  Then, manage your thoughts and moods as situations require. The power to do this is a choice.   As Lou Holtz says: “Life is ten percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.”  Maintain expert social awareness – that is, understand the styles, needs, interests of those who surround you.  Finally, improve the quality of your interaction/communication with others.  Listen well – to what is said and to what is not said – to the verbal and to the non-verbal.  Communicate clearly and authentically. Be consistent.

3. Manage your energy. Exercise on a regular basis, find ways to relax (golf, tennis, yoga, spinning, cycling, music, dance, meditation, prayer), maintain proper nutrition even when you are dining with clients or are out of town, drink plenty of water in the course of a day, limit your alcohol intake, and for those who need it – enroll in a smoking cessation program.

4. Know your priorities and values, and act in accordance with them.  Doing otherwise causes stress.

5. Balance long-term vision with short-term focus.  While it’s good to set ambitious, long-term goals, make sure you create a series of achievable, short-term goals that can take you there.  Take time to pause, step back and appreciate what you’ve accomplished.

6. Set realistic expectations – of yourself, your colleagues, your company, your family and friends.  If you set the bar too high, you will never succeed, and you will disappoint yourself, others or your organization. But if you set the bar too low, this will decrease motivation.  So reach for stars that are within your reach, and capitalize on natural strengths.   Realistic expectations lead to success, success leads to self-confidence, and self-confidence decreases stress.

7. And finally, as you reflect on the state of our very complex and challenging world today, take a few deep breaths and think of these words: PATIENCE…HUMILITY…CIVILITY…GRATITUDE.  Repeat them to yourself as a mantra. This reminds us of our place in the universe, and somehow things are just not that stressful after all.

Best wishes for a