Your physical health is a key ingredient for resilience and ultimately success in your career. Unfortunately, with the press of daily demands, it can feel like there’s simply no time to work out or take care of yourself. Watch the video below or read the blog post that follows to explore how taking charge of your health is actually a strategic career move. We’ll look at strategies you can use to make time for yourself, even in the face of a demanding career.
Getting a promotion shouldn’t have to mean sacrificing your health. When you feel stressed and overwhelmed, you aren’t doing your best work. It’s easier to become irritated or frustrated. You lose concentration and focus. It’s harder to remember details and think through difficult scenarios.
In other words, taking care of your health is not only in your best interest. It’s also in the best interest of your company.
When you take care of your mental and physical health, on the other hand – eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water – you’re better able to respond to the challenges you face at work. Being well-rested and adequately fueled is key to having the equilibrium that’s at the heart of a solid executive presence. And that is key to having the influence and impact you want to have in your career.
I recently read that only 8% of people will still be on track with their new year’s resolutions by this time of year. That’s a signal of just how challenging it can be to maintain a focus on our own well-being.
In today’s 24/7, work-anywhere-any time economy, it can be easy to feel like you have to be working all of the time. That can definitely get in the way of taking care of yourself.
Here are 3 strategies I work on with my clients to help them make time for their physical and mental health:
Be very clear about your priorities.
I don’t just mean prioritizing your health. I mean knowing the priorities of your role, your team, your organization. Companies used to go through long strategic planning processes to analyze and set strategic priorities. That doesn’t happen anymore – for good reason. Those processes required a huge investment of time and energy and sometimes made it difficult for organizations to pivot quickly when circumstances changed. The challenge now, however, is that too little attention is being given to prioritization. Everything is urgent. In the face of that, individuals must take matters into their own hands. This is one of the things I work with my clients on: getting really clear about their own priorities, for their own lives, as well as in their roles. We look at how their role contributes to the organization, and how they can make an impact.
With a clear sense of priorities, you can decide what work will make the best use of your time. You can choose what you’ll do, what you’ll put off, and what you simply won’t do. You can focus on the quality rather than the quantity of your work. I know this can feel countercultural in a lot of organizations right now. Work seems to be speeding up, faster and faster so that it seems like everything has to get done right now. The reality is that’s just not true. It’s never true.
In one of my very early consulting projects in my 20s, a client brought this idea home for me. I was in the mode of “hurry, hurry, rush, rush” and had promised to get him a comprehensive deliverable from our work the very next day. It was a crazy thing to promise, but I was eager to please and not afraid of long hours. He was a physician, and he responded, “We’re not on ER time here. Nobody’s going to die if I don’t get that report until Monday. Why don’t you just take the time you need to really do it and get it to me next week?”
That contrast really stuck with me. There are some jobs in this world where lives are on the line – where people will die if you don’t do what’s needed right away. But that’s not most jobs. Despite the “hurry, hurry, rush, rush” pace that’s being generated, most of corporate life isn’t actually life or death. Of course, there are deadlines. There are deals to be made. There are profits to be had. And those are important. But they shouldn’t come at the cost of your health and your long-term wellbeing.
Know how to say “no.”
Saying no at work can be tricky. Your boss or colleague may not like being inconvenienced by you. That’s understandable. However, there are ways that you can navigate and negotiate those conversations. There’s usually a way to say “no” that is compelling. When you can do that, you’ll come across as strategic and thoughtful. This is another skill I teach my clients. Being able to do this means you can go for that next promotion, and work at that next level, in a way that is sustainable for you.
Some people hesitate to go for a promotion because they worry that at that next level they’ll have to give up more of their life. They worry that they won’t be able to be around for their families or have free time. Partly that’s because of the role modeling they’re seeing from others.
Every step you move up the ladder in an organization brings bigger challenges with bigger impacts, but that doesn’t have to take more of your time or keep you from having a healthy balance in your life. Anyone who tells you otherwise just hasn’t figured it out yet for themselves.
In reality, your company needs you to be strategic about how you use yourself as a resource and how you use your team as a resource. This becomes more true – not less – the higher you go up the ladder. If you’re a manager who’s working all the time and setting that as an example for your team, you’re actually doing the company a disservice. That’s not strategic, and it’s not sustainable.
If you’d like more strategies to help you get ahead in your career without burning out, check out my webinar, “5 Shifts Successful (But Dissatisfied) Professionals Make to Earn the Respect, Recognition and Pay Raises They Deserve.” Or, book a free initial call with me to talk more.