from ‘DECA Direct Magazine | November-December 2020‘
Managing Stress as a Small Bus…
Hannah Smolicz | Collegiate DECA Vice President
Let’s face it: being an emerging leader is not easy! We’re supposed to get good grades, be involved in our community, excel in extracurriculars, select a college, apply for scholarships, navigate social relationships and gain job experience. Add in virtual or hybrid learning, a global pandemic and a tumultuous political environment and these things become even more difficult. So, how can we manage it all? How can we achieve a healthy lifestyle?
First, you must ask yourself a rather insane question: Who are you? While there are countless ways to answer, think in terms of the type of personality that you have. More specifically, are you more naturally introverted or extroverted?
Extroverted people usually find that after a long day of work, they recharge their energy by going out to dinner with friends and socializing. On the contrary, introverts may recharge by watching a movie on their own or cooking dinner for themselves. Of course, these personalities often overlap. Introverts do not only enjoy spending time alone and do not always work well individually. They may actually love to go out with a group of friends or work best with a team. Likewise, extroverts also need—and may even crave—alone time.
The main difference between these personality types is how they recharge. Trying to recharge in a way that doesn’t match your personality can actually increase your stress level, rather than alleviate it. So, rid yourself of the belief that being introverted means antisocial and that being extroverted means having an unlimited social battery. Everyone has a social battery, but some batteries last longer than others.
Remember that extroversion and introversion are not all-or-nothing traits; they’re actually based on a continuum. Neither personality type is ‘better’ than the other.
Are You Extroverted or Introverted?
You might be extroverted if…
1. You love to talk and socialize
2. You thrive from group interactions
3. You discuss problems openly
4. You like to try new things
5. Your ideal party is a huge event where you can meet new people
6. You feed off the hype around you
7. You’re the “life of the party” who loves having an audience
You might be introverted if…
1. You enjoy solitude and time to think
2. You have a small group of close friends
3. You are happy to listen and observe
4. You require advance notice to best prepare feedback and ideas
5. Your ideal party is a small gathering of close friends
6. You feel distracted and unfocused from too much stimulation
7. You prefer to avoid being the center of attention
Let’s learn more about the Five Gears:
Now that you understand your personality a little better, it’s time to learn about the Five Gears. Essentially, the gears are different modes, or mindsets, that humans switch between when we want to achieve a specific goal. Think of it like driving a car and shifting between different gears. It’s all about learning to shift into the right gear at the right time.
1. Recharge Mode
How do you recharge? This may include reading a book, watching your favorite show, taking the time to cook a meal, going out with friends or even exercising. Recharging refers to the way humans relax; what we enjoy doing despite being stressed. Some people like to recharge alone, while others need a social setting to feel rejuvenated. Ask yourself whether you recharge too much or too little. Some may use recharging as a way to procrastinate and avoid responsibilities, as they have a difficult time switching to other gears. Others may have a difficult time switching to this first gear because they find it hard to relax.
2. Connect Mode
In second gear, we connect with our family or friends without the interruption of work. Some may recharge by connecting with the important people in their life, but for others, this can be a completely separate gear. Regardless, all people must connect to those around them through meaningful conversations to fuel personal relationships. For instance, if someone is constantly working and does not take the time to reach out to their friends, they will begin to weaken or lose those relationships. Connecting with someone on a personal level is significant and can even help you further understand yourself. It allows us to digest and comprehend emotion, as well as feel love for our family and friends.
3. Social Mode
No matter one’s personality type, everyone needs social time. Individuals must meet new people, make new friends and spend time with their friends and family. Whether through Zoom or in person, people must interact with others on a casual level and do this in ways they personally enjoy. Be sure to pay attention to how much time you spend socializing, as extroverts may use social mode to shirk other responsibilities and procrastinate on important tasks.
4. Task Mode
Fourth gear is a time for working and multitasking. When we switch into this gear, we may be doing simple chores around the house, changing our phone plan or running errands. This mode often includes checking off items on your to-do list, even if they are simple. If one ignores those simple tasks, bills may not be paid, emails not sent and groceries never bought. Therefore, the ability to switch into this gear is actually very significant. In this mode, you can work productively on several tasks, but not necessarily have laserlike focus.
5. Focus Mode
When you enter fifth gear, you are in complete focus and thinking strategically or working without interruption. You may refer to it as being “in the zone”, usually completing a significant, complex task. Some may struggle to switch to this gear and have trouble focusing on one task for an extended period of time. So, understand how you most effectively work. Are you able to work in your home or do you need to be in another location? Do you need silence or the buzz of other people? Do you focus best in the morning or at night? By answering these questions and adjusting your environment, you will be able to switch into this gear more easily, even if the task is not particularly enjoyable.
Which gears do you find yourself spending the most time in? Each gear is important to leading a healthy lifestyle, so strive to find a balance. Be aware of what you need to spend more time on or what gears may be dominating your day. Like learning to drive a car, it takes practice and repetition. To de-stress and be genuinely happy, everyone needs to balance these modes and understand how to best take advantage of the Five Gears.
This article is based on the book 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time by Steve Cockram and Jeremie Kubicek. Discover other tools and learn more at www.giantworldwide.com.