The Best Life Advice I’ve Ever Gotten

You know those days where you look at your to-do list, and you almost feel sick?  Or those weeks where you feel completely overwhelmed by all the things you’ve got to do?  You wonder how the heck you’re going to make it all happen.  Your chest feels tight, your neck and shoulders are tense, and you’re rushing from one thing to the next. I’m going to guess this sounds all too familiar.  And today, you’re in luck, because I am sharing the life-changing advice I got seven years ago.  I use this advice every single time I feel stressed or overwhelmed, and it’s still the best life advice I’ve ever gotten.  Some things are too good to keep to yourself, so today, I’m sharing this advice with you!  Watch below for the best life advice I’ve ever gotten, and learn how it can help you destress immediately!

Let me paint you a quick picture of how this advice came about.  In 2012, I was finishing my internship.  (Internship for psychologists is like residency for physicians.)  It was a really difficult and stressful year for me.  I matched at my top choice, but that meant living two hours away from Matt, Monday through Friday, and commuting home on the weekends.  My workload was intense, and I spent some of my weekends and nights on call.  It’s safe to say I was a giant stressball for that entire year.

So near the end of the internship, I sat down with one of my supervisors for my end of the year feedback. Here’s what he said in a nutshell.  “You’ve done great this year.  But you need to chill out.”  I laughed nervously.  But internally, I rolled my eyes. I’d heard that feedback before, at nearly every evaluation in my life.  My supervisor continued, “Allison, you’ve got to learn to take a C in some things.”  

At this point, I spoke up, unable to contain myself.  “No. No, Cs are not an option.”  He laughed and said, “Fine,”changing the metaphor to be about learning to “take a B.”  He made a case for why this was important, and I nodded my head politely.  But I left his office not really intending to change.

Fast forward a few years, and I was in my first job.  I was completely overwhelmed.  I was stressed and stretched thin, trying to do entirely too much.  One night while I was driving home, I thought back to my supervisor’s advice about learning to take a B.  And something just clicked.  

You cannot get an A in everything, all of the time.

You cannot get an A in everything, all of time.  No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible.  You can’t get an A in your health, your relationships, your job, your fun, your workouts, your finances, your family, your marriage, and your coursework.  You can’t get straight As in all of those, all of the time.  And if you insist on trying?  If you insist on pushing yourself?  You will end up getting much a lower grade.  And by then it won’t be a B.  It’ll be a D or an F.  

So here’s the advice. Choose what you’re going to take a B in.  Look at what’s on your plate. Look at what’s stressing you out.  Get honest all the things you’re trying to do.  And then, instead of trying to do them all perfectly, choose what you’re going to pull back on.  Choose what you’re going to do halfway. 

Because if you don’t choose, if you don’t make some tough but healthy decisions, you’ll pay the price.  The stress will take its toll, but you won’t get a say in how. Your body and your brain will choose for you.  And I don’t want that for you.  I want youto choose.  I want youto make that decision for yourself

The Best Life Advice I'ver Ever Gotten, via Dr. Allison Answers

If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably know that I recently opened up a new, much larger practice.  This has been both super exciting and super stressful.  And that first week? I could feel the stress creeping up.  I could feel the tension throughout my body.  So Sunday night, I asked myself,“Allison, what are you going to take a B in this week?  You want to get an A in everything, in the business, in your sleep, in your workouts, in your relationships, in your style, in your meal prep, in your marriage. But there’s no way you’re going to do that all this week.  So, what are you going to take a B in?”

I thought about it.  First, I wanted an A in being on top of stuff at my new practice.  I wanted an A in my sleep, because I know I don’t do well in my life when I’m sleep deprived.  And as silly as this sounds, I wanted an A in my style for that first week, because I really wanted to dress and feel like a badass boss.  I knew that I was about all I could handle getting As in.  So I made the decision to get a B in my workouts for the week, working out just twice and calling that a win.  I took a B in healthy eating, eating PBJ and pizza on several occasions that week.  I also wasn’t a great friend for the week.  And I decided to be ok with that.  As soon as I made those decisions, as soon as I chose my Bs for the week, I felt an instant reduction in anxiety.  I felt relieved, because I no longer had the pressure to do it all.

This isn’t saying that you’re going to take a B in these things forever.  This isn’t saying that you’re going to leave your relationships and your health on the back burner for two months.  But for a week?  It’s fine.  It’s not going to cause long-term damage or have lasting consequences.  You get to routinely evaluate and reevaluate the grades you’re getting. When you’re stressed, you have to ask yourself, “What am I going to take a B in?”  And then you’ve got to answer that question.  You’ve got to identify the areas that you’re let go of and not do perfectly.

What am I going to take a B in?

I’ve actually talked about this concept before, in one of my very first videos, when I probably had ten subscribers.  Since then, I’ve narrowed down three, super simple steps to help you get from feeling stressed and overwhelmed, to taking a B and feeling better.

1.Notice you’re stressed and identify everything on your to-do list. You might choose to do this day by day and ask yourself this first thing in the morning. Or you might do this for the entire week and ask yourself this on Sunday night.  Outline, whether mentally or on a piece of paper, all the things you feel pressured to do.

2.Evaluate and weigh your options.  This is where you sort through your priorities.  Out of all the things and demands you named, what’s most important?  What things do you want to get an A in?  Decide where you want to shine, and commit to your awesomeness.  Now think about the flipside.  What’s less important to you?  What can wait, or what can you compromise on?  

3.Choose and stick to your Bs.  Those things that you just named?  Those things that are less important or that can wait?  Those are your Bs.  Name them, and call them out.  Commit that these things aren’t going to get your effort today or this week.  And when your brain slips back and tries to put effort toward then, remember your commitment. Stick with what you decided, and take those Bs with pride.

This advice is a gamechanger for stress, because it puts you in charge.  It puts you in the driver’s seat.  It puts you in control of where and how you spend your effort. So the next time you’re stressed, ask yourself, “What can I take a B in?”  And if your brain says, “Nothing,” don’t believe that.  List the things you feel pressured to do, weigh your options, and then make your choice.

Remember, you don’t always get a say in what life throws your way, but you do get a say in how you respond. 


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One Comment

  1. Sabina

    A great one 🙂
    I am often overwhelmed and it’s not easy to choose THIS one thing, I wpuld offer less energy.
    I work hard, I am a mum, a wife, I have very ill old parents and 7 (!) cats to take care of. My life is well organised, but still, as I am emotionall, getting all this pieces together, gets frustrating now and then. My Mum is now at hospital, as she has burned herslef severly. And as my parents live quite far away, managing the whole situation (as every time there is a medical problem with my Mum or Dad) is very hard. So – not to get all too overwhelmed -I decided to get a B in being all too concerned. I just told myself “it is as it is” – my overworrying won’t help, as it never does. So I will use this energy on being operational and practical in this circumstances. I have stopped feeling self pity, just focused on getting things done.
    I guess it’s not a classical answer – but it works. I always thought, that being emotional about tough situations is part of the game. Now I have decided to skip it.

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