31st Jan 2024
I don’t know about you, but 2024 has been challenging for me thus far. My household has been navigating one cootie after another. Combating the germ hamster wheel has this germaphobe fatigued and sick-and-tired of being sick and tired. Alas, there is still a mountain of work to get done, a team to lead and clients to serve. What am I to do?
Most folks know by now that I talk about wellbeing because I am challenged with it myself. Operating from a consistent place of wellbeing requires one to recommit regularly to practices that we know will keep us on track. I realized that as January was coming to a close, I needed to pause, reflect and reset. Bottom line – I needed to get back to basics. Here is some food for thought that I hope is helpful as you move into the moments, days and months ahead.
Conduct a Wellbeing Quick Check. A quick inventory of where you are can help you clarify where you want to be and what it would take for you to get there. Ask yourself the question – How would I rate myself on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, on the following: sleep, rest and renewal?
a) Sleep – Focus on the quality of your sleep rather than the quantity. We all require different amounts of sleep to operate at our best. I sleep about 2 hours longer each night than my spouse.
b) Rest – If sleep is powering off, rest is powering down. These are the things that allow you to just BE. Relaxing experiences that don’t require a tremendous amount of cognitive or physical effort.
c) Renewal – Whether they are physical, social, mental or a combination thereof, engaging in these activities energizes you.
Once you give yourself a rating, you can choose to change your practices to dial up a lever in one of the categories if you are not satisfied with your evaluation. If you regularly conduct a wellbeing quick check, you can begin to identify patterns and adjust accordingly.
Personally, I was sleeping like a champion and engaging in renewal activities (that unfortunately exposed me to the aforementioned cooties). However, I wasn’t getting sufficient rest due to my desire to keep pushing on work deliverables, which kept me feeling rundown. As I have become more conscious of needing more rest, I have started to feel more like myself.
Commit to Daily Wellbeing Practices. After putting the needs of others before my own for most of my career and finally taking a step back to heal, get clarity and change my life, I identified daily wellbeing practices that were missing from my world. That’s when I created PLC’s Wellbeing Booster: 5 Easy Practices to Enhance Daily Wellbeing.
One of the hats that I wear at work is executive and leadership coach, which means that a big part of my job is being silent, listening to understand context and asking thoughtful, probing questions. I do this every morning with myself when I journal and attempt to make sense of the swirl that is happening around me and in my head. It is a daily practice that has brought so much clarity into my life – work and personal – once I committed to it.
When I reflected on getting back to basics, I decided to pull out the Wellbeing Booster. While I created the wellbeing tips, I am a visual person. Even though I embody the practices already, I needed to slow down and identify if there was an opportunity to go deeper with any of them. I realized that I could be more intentional and explicit with how I was operationalizing the practices.
Chances are that you already know wellbeing practices that work for you. What would it take for you to recommit to at least one of them? Ditch the idea of what your new year’s resolution was or should have been. That time is gone, my friend. Think about what would serve you today. Don’t boil the ocean. Experiment. Start small.
Align Work with Your Energy. Funny story. I love writing and believe it is my strength. Earlier this month, I sat down to write this article, knowing that I wanted to start the year off talking about wellbeing. Since I was so exhausted, I decided to go back into my arsenal of 2020 wellbeing articles and use AI to see if I could combine all of my previous content into a masterpiece. Honestly, the result was pure trash. Maybe because of my prompts. Maybe because I was asking a bot to be a better me than I am. Either way, I scrapped the entire thing and reflected on the mini-debacle. What motivated me to look for a shortcut and undermine doing an activity that brings me joy? What was I missing?
I realized that I was attempting to write and be creative in the afternoon when I know for a fact that I am in my best creative flow in the morning. Now, my ChatGPT prompts can still be trash in the morning. However, my need to even leverage such tools would not be necessary based on my previous evidence. The next morning, I took 15 minutes to think about what I wanted to share, then scheduled time for a future morning to sit down and write. I felt excited and, most importantly, clear and confident.
There is plenty of data to support what I just shared around aligning work to when it energizes you, or rather, knowing what de-energizes you and aligning your schedule when you have energy to do that work. You may be reading this and saying, “Shamis, that is easier said than done. You have your own business and make your own schedule. I don’t have that luxury.”
My response? Yes, that may be true. AND I invite you to do the initial inventory to identify what work energizes you and what work de-energizes you. Experiment with small modifications that are within your locus of control and see what patterns emerge. When you have some data, share your lessons with your manager. There may be some opportunities to adjust meetings that do not involve large stakeholder groups to help you maximize your work time. Pitch the business case for why doing so can be a win-win not only for you but also for your team.
I shared some tips that have worked for me and for my clients over the years. Wellbeing is both a continuum and a journey. It works when it is working and when it isn’t – watch out! That said, when we are aware of where we are at and where we want to be, we can choose how we want to move forward.
I do acknowledge that the environment in which you are operating may not have the conditions in place to support your wellbeing. That needed to be said and that is an article for another day. However, you still get to clarify what you need to thrive and make decisions that will move you forward that are within your locus of control. There is not one right way.