Care for Yourself During Uncertain Times
I’m calling it right now. We have officially hit the point where a great many people (including leaders) are burning out. It feels like the four horsemen (those figures bringing on the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation) are saddled up and many people are near (or at) their breaking point.
This statement may feel overly dramatic, yet an increasing number of leaders are opening up to me about their fears, stresses, overwork, and general uncertainty about EVERYTHING. Their journey of self-realization has been accelerated by our current situation and brought them to a gut-check moment more quickly than they might have otherwise arrived. Here are a few statements made to me during the past two weeks.
- I’ve missed so many of my children’s games and events because of the time I’ve spent at work.
- I don’t have any hobbies – just work – it used to be enough, but I don’t know who I am without it.
- It’s so difficult to be the person that everyone expects me to be – I don’t think I’m that person.
- I always cared so much and thought that I was making a difference for the organization, but the company culture changed in the past several years and before I realized it my contributions were no longer valued.
- I cannot handle any more change.
- Everyone is looking to me to navigate this mess, and I have no idea what’s coming next.
It’s easy to look outward and rage against what we cannot control. But the only thing you truly have power over is that which lies within. Because hard work isn’t enough. You must also be deliberate about your mental hygiene and the way you structure your life.
Perspective about good self-care often comes with seasoning and age. Yet far too many entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders gradually back themselves into a corner where their lives are no longer what they envisioned. Then, when large, disruptive, external changes occur, the balls that we juggle often drop.
So, just as the airline attendants always point out during their safety briefings, it’s past time to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others. To follow are some techniques and suggestions that may help.
5 Self-Care Tips for Leaders
1. Deliberately Design Your Life
It’s rarely too late to form new habits, establish new patterns, and hit the reset button. Stephen Covey famously observed that we should, “Begin with the end in mind.” It’s the second of his seven habits, and, if you’re struggling with the scope and direction of anything, start there. My friend and fellow Vistage, Chair Irina Baranov, excels in this area. Check out my interview with her about her program Life by Design: Strategic Life Planning then ask yourself, “What do I really want my life to become?”
2. Call for Help
Friends are many people’s first go-to, but a good executive coach can assist you with navigating more than just “business problems.” Similarly, a solid peer advisory board can help ensure that you’re asking the correct questions and enable you to find the answers. Finally, a good therapist is also worth their weight in gold. Taking the first step is the hardest, but once you engage with them, you’ll wonder why you didn’t ask yourself the question “Who should I call?” years ago.
3. Find Your Limits
Umar Hameed is an expert in neurolinguistic programming—which is a fancy way of saying “You can rewire how you behave.” If some of what’s getting in your way is you (and who isn’t getting in their own way) check out my video interview with Umar titled How to Prevent Self-Limiting Behavior from Limiting Your Leadership Potential. Then ask yourself, “Where am I limiting myself and what might I do about that?”
4. Manage Your Time Better
How often do you begin working and find yourself at the end of the day with little to show for your efforts? There are many reasons for this, and one likely culprit is your lack of scheduled activities. A quick fix you can implement is something known as “time blocking.” Ask yourself what activities you need to block time for and when.
5. Focus on Your Physical Health
Our mental and physical health are inextricably intertwined. Just as there is no “work-life balance,” there is similarly no mental clarity without physical well-being. Health and wellness guru Dan Miller understands this, so take a moment to watch my video interview with him. It’s appropriately titled How to Be a Happy Healthy Human. After viewing it, ask yourself, “What changes do I need to make to better align my body and mind?”
I’m Here to Support You
If none of the above tips get at the core of what’s truly affecting you, then give me a call. We’re in a very uncertain and stressful time, but please know that you’re not alone. You will pull through—it just might take asking the correct questions and getting some help.