‘I just work better under pressure’

Are you not getting an awful lot done at the moment?

You aren’t alone.

With no pressing deadlines and a lot of people on leave the pace has slowed right down for many.

There’s no problem with things slowing down, except if you have the feeling you’re not making the most of your time. And especially if you know in your heart that not doing what you could be doing right now is coming back to bite you in a month or two.

 For years I told myself this:

I just work better under pressure.

It felt really true. I always got the work done and to be honest, there is a bit of a thrill to get the report over the line at the 11th hour. I always got a buzz out of that.

But I wasn’t seeing that there was a downside to this thinking:

I only seemed to get a lot of work done when there was a sense of urgency or need… a deadline imposed by someone else. Which meant that in the absence of deadlines or someone else’s expectations, I was working ineffectively…sometimes getting very little done.

When I discovered coaching, I realised that my belief ‘I work better under pressure’ was actually a big fat lie.

The truth was not that I worked better under pressure, but rather:

✅ I worked better when someone else had an expectation of me that I wanted to meet

✅ I worked better when I sent the non-negotiable signal ‘this is happening now‘ to my brain and refused to let my brain negotiate, haggle or otherwise badger me into not doing what I said I was going to. Which is what I was constantly letting it do.

 I had trained myself to do this and then started to believe that this was true about me.

 If you’re not getting a lot done at the moment and you just know it’s going to come back to bite you, then it will be really helpful for you to know that what’s going on is this:

Your brain is offering you up suggestions and you are agreeing with them.

That’s it.

Your brain says:

‘No need to do that today. There’s no rush’.

And you say ‘Ok brain‘. And put it off.

 Is your brain right when it says ‘There’s no rush.‘?


It’s neither right, or wrong

It’s just offering you a thought that it has. One that it has likely thought over and over again which – in the absence of a deadline – had you taking things easier. You can interrupt this thought pattern any time you like:

‘No brain, you’re right. There is no rush. But I said I was going to do this today, so I’m going to follow through and work it down’


‘No brain, you’re right. There is no rush. But I don’t need to have a rush before I get things done. I’m tired of working like that. Game on. This is happening today.’


‘No brain, you’re right. There is no rush. But I will be so proud of myself for getting this done today. I actually love the idea of being a person who sets herself up like this by working ahead of external deadlines.

Don’t expect your brain to drop it there.

It won’t.

Our brains don’t distinguish between habits we have that serve us well and habits we have that don’t serve us well.

Our brains think that anything we have practiced and repeated many times over are things that are important to do.

You know the way when you’re in a different country where you drive on the opposite side of the road and your brain keeps sending up signals periodically to get you over to the other side of the road? That’s protective. Your brain doesn’t know that in this country you drive on the other side of the road until you’ve reminded it enough times and it gets the memo that that’s actually the right side here and stops badgering you to change sides.

Exactly the same thing is going to go on when you push back on it telling you that there’s no rush.

Your brain will go to town. Expect it to try and get you to do things the way you have always done them. It will continue:

But no one else is doing anything right now’

 and this one:

 ‘Sure it’s normal not to be doing much in August. No one expects it really’.

Again, these are just thoughts. 

Sentences in your brain.

Neither right or wrong. You get to question them.

Yes, it may be normal not to get much done in August. But look around at what else is probably ‘normal’ in your office:

 Not properly planning things through and then having to pick things up when they go wrong in the middle of the project.

 Working mad hours later in the year because we took things easy in August.

 Consider that maybe ‘normal’ isn’t the goal, if that’s how normal looks?

Thinking pattern interruption is my zone of expertise. I can help you figure out what thoughts are keeping you off track from doing and being the way you want to be at work so you can have the impact and traction you want to have.

 Book a free consultation with me here to speak with me about how I can help you.

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