How to Avoid Stress Through Becoming More Process-Oriented
In this post, I offer an alternative perspective to the results-obsessed approach many of us fall into the trap of during our university years. After reading The Practicing Mind by Tom Sterner, I was dumbstruck as I began to uncover the wisdom he revealed and confronted the results-oriented approach I had been following for so many years.
Being results-oriented can be powerful as it leads to ambitious goals and pressures us to be productive at achieving those goals, but once we have set our eyes on a particular hobby or ambition, taking a process-oriented approach can be much more beneficial, as Sterner explains. I find this is particularly applicable to university students like myself whether involved in applying to internships or revising for summer exams.
The key idea from the book is that when we subtly shift towards both focusing on and finding joy in the process of achieving instead of having a goal, we have gained a new skill. And once mastered, this skill is incredibly empowering.
I will focus on how, if I could go back in time, I would apply Sterner’s technique to the period where I was applying to internships, which can be the greatest learning curve during university. From writing a CV, cover letter, doing online tests, preparing for video interviews and then face to face interviews, as well as other application components and then dealing with rejection and uncertainty, the whole process is an immense learning experience.
Here are 3 ways I would have taken a more processed oriented, present-minded approach to internship applications:
- Develop an enjoyment for acquiring commercial awareness rather than scrambling to read every article I can find.
- I would have dug deeper into a few key industry trends, making A4 summaries and using newsletters like the Pitchbook ‘Weekend Pitch’ to inspire those main A4 topic sheets. Areas I would have started with include: Big tech regulation, the convergence of food delivery services and the shift towards electric vehicles, as well as an overview of environmental, social and governance (ESG) dynamics.
- I would have seen interview preparation as a way to strengthen friendships and become a clearer communicator rather than as a stressful exam to revise for.
- I would have planned more mock interviews with friends when learning technical questions to give us both a deadline to work towards and would have experimented with gamification e.g. where we score the number of times we catch each other out with a tough question. Example questions might include what is a character from a book you would be? Or what 3 questions would you ask the CEO of a company you’re looking to invest in?
- I would have approached interview preparation with more enjoyment e.g. taking delight in trying to come up with the best possible 2 examples for each major competency and then trying to make this sheet as concise as possible.
- I’d take enjoyment out of trying to write up a game plan to share with others in the future.
- I would take delight in every challenge overcome by documenting what worked and what didn’t work for me, knowing that I would be able to share these in the future e.g. during a university society-led panel event.
The 3 ideas above hopefully give you some ideas of how you can apply a more process-oriented approach to even the greatest challenges you face at university and you’ll find that when you begin taking delight in the process, the results come with much more ease.