How to Succeed in a High-Pressure Job

If you know how to thrive in a challenging work environment, it can be a very fulfilling career choice.
Sarah Si
Sarah Si
Editor, gradsingapore
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You’ve managed to land the job of your dreams, but welp, it comes with high expectations and a ton of responsibilities! Your stress levels have now shot through the roof and into the atmosphere as you struggle with the heavy weight on your shoulders.

It goes without saying that this situation isn’t healthy in the long run. Letting it continue to overwhelm you can severely affect your mental health, leading to depression, insomnia, tension headaches or burnout. This is why in the annual Singapore 100 Leading Graduate Employers Survey 2021 conducted by GTI Media Singapore (S100 Survey), almost half of the respondents indicated an aversion to high-pressure careers that involve a lot of stress.

But tackle this challenge early enough before you go off the deep end and you may be able to flip this into the dream job that you first expected it to be. But where do you start?

Pinpoint the main culprits

Before you can start figuring out a solution, it’ll be best if you can pick out the underlying causes so you can come up with effective solutions and a plan of attack. Is your workload too heavy? Or perhaps the timeline of the current project you’re working on is too short. Alternatively, you may be stressed out due to external factors, like the present global pandemic. On the other hand, there may be colleagues you just can’t get along with, no matter how much you try to.

How to Succeed in a High-Pressure Job_01_Pinpoint the main culprits

Keep a stress diary

The main idea behind a stress diary is to help you take note of what’s going on around you, how it’s stressing you and what helps de-stress you. The information you collate can then be used to identify sources of stress, such as bad time management, disorganisation, or even impending burnout. You can include ways you’re affected (like “something burning in your stomach”) and the best way to manage it (perhaps taking a long walk).

In addition, because you keep a record of the stress you’ve been feeling throughout the day, a large benefit is that you’ll be able to pinpoint the optimal level of pressure you need in order to work at your most productive!

How to Succeed in a High-Pressure Job_02_Stress Diary

Keep calm and carry on

Every time you feel overwhelmed at work, take a few minutes and just take deep breaths to calm yourself. Small yet frequent breaks throughout the day help you to take a breather, and relax and recharge a little. You can also listen to white noise and music to help you centre yourself. These exercises can even help you build your resilience to stress in the long run, one of the top skills employers look for in graduates!

How to Succeed in a High-Pressure Job_03_Keep calm

Think positive

Attitude plays a huge role in managing stress, no matter how much work you have or what role you’re in. Maintaining a negative mindset over a long period of time will only lead to depression and burnout, but a positive attitude will raise productivity while also helping you deal with your stress!

How to Succeed in a High-Pressure Job_04_Positive Thinking

Find meaning in what you do

Instead of focusing on the high pressure and stress levels related to your role, reflect on what you love about your job in the first place. Was it the frenetic pace of work that initially attracted you? Or perhaps the travel opportunities you’re privy to even in this time?

Whatever your reasons, take note that these are your intrinsic motivations that drew you in because you enjoy and are satisfied by them, and not because you have to do them. Unlocking this will help you find fulfilment in what you do!

How to Succeed in a High-Pressure Job_05_Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Get to know the difference between pressure and stress

There’s a fine line between pressure and stress. So if you can make a clear distinction between pressure and stress, you can easily keep an eye on yourself and make the difference between performing at your best and throwing your laptop into the sea at East Coast Park (please don’t let it get that far)!

How to Succeed in a High-Pressure Job_06_Pressure and Stress

When is it time to leave a high-pressure job?

High-pressure jobs may leave you feeling wrung out or that you’ve had a bad day at work. Or maybe a bad week. But if you can’t even remember when you last had a good day, it’s not foolish or weak to consider perhaps moving on or taking a break.

Chronic stress and toxic jobs will adversely affect your health. Insomnia, weight loss and a constant lack of energy will allow even the common cold to hit you hard – and no job’s worth losing your health over. Always feeling down or depressed is another big sign that you might need to take a step back and assess where you are physically, mentally and emotionally.

How to Succeed in a High-Pressure Job_07_Time to leave job

In a nutshell, it’s perfectly possible to succeed at a high-pressure job! You just need to be aware of certain triggers you may have, take care of your mental health and come up with new and innovative exercises to help you cope. But, when all is said and done and it’s not enough, it might be time to ask yourself if this is the right career path for yourself. Ultimately, you’re in the driver’s seat.