If you are a doer, driver, achiever, a goal-oriented, ladder-climbing, innovative and productive leader or entrepreneur, congratulations. You will be rewarded well for continuing to show up in that high expectation, upwardly mobile, growth-focused world we live in.
And, there’s a risk that at some point you will hit the wall. You might show up for a meeting and throw a chair, burst into tears or name call, blame, and stomp on someone else. Or you might get sick, then sick again, then pull a muscle and have trouble sleeping. It happens. I know. It’s one of the reasons my logo character wears a cape. I’ve done it all and continue to be aware of and manage those behaviors that work against me over time.
The reason why extreme self-care is controversial is that those of us who orient to the world in that full-out, take-that-hill way often feel like self-care is for other people. A weekly massage? A daily workout? Meditation? Sleeping? Who has time – am I right? We’ve all said that to ourselves.
One of my new favorite books, thanks to a recommendation from a Nashville colleague, Edy Nash, is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. One thing that clicked with me is that entrepreneurs and executives have to make decisions every day, and having a clear idea of the “important few” that will bring success to the organization is critical. If you aren’t able to discern the few from the many, you will model confusion and being overwhelmed, instead of clarity and calm. Saying “no” is as important as saying “yes” for successful outcomes.
One of the steps that resonated with me is choosing to choose: being conscious of what we are choosing and why we are choosing it. Am I saying “yes” to a project because I believe it’s critical? Or am I doing it to please someone, meet another’s expectations of what is successful or good, or something else? Particularly as a solo entrepreneur, saying “yes” to too many things limits my ability to scale and offer full value to my clients. Saying “no” means I’m more intentional about the choices I’m making that fit my skills, abilities and passion.
Modeling good choice-making enables your team to also say “no” with thoughtfulness about the important few. Imagine the impact you have as a leader if you are not good at discerning between the important few and saying “yes” to everything. This behavior creates a story that your employees are expected to say “yes” to everything, which takes a toll on their productivity and engagement.
What choices will you make in 2016 that reduce the swirl and improve your ability to stay balanced, healthy and focused? Saying “yes” to extreme personal self-care in 2016 could be one of your best choices and set a model for others in your life. Some suggestions:
- Regularly turn off your electronic devices and walk or sit in nature. Get moving.
- Stress is the worst use of creativity. Pause, and put together a puzzle or draw or color in a coloring book to reduce your stress and tap into creativity. (There’s a resurgence of adult coloring books http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Books-Coloring-Grown-Ups/zgbs/books/11357541011)
- Decide to begin your day with a routine that sets you up to know your priorities and make good choices. This could include meditation, reading, sitting quietly, having coffee with a friend, working out, or a host of other routines that reinforce your nervous system and ready you for making good choices throughout the day.
- Schedule a monthly massage, a house cleaning or other service that allows you to take care of yourself and keep your focus on the important few. The cost of these services is a bargain when you consider how much more energy you have, and how much more productive and happy you are as a result.
- See sleep as an option for your body to recover and for your brain to refuel. Cutting sleep short cuts your potential short. It’s no longer a badge of honor to work on less than optimal sleep.
How will you be controversial and choose to take care of yourself, starting tomorrow? I’m choosing to take a break from writing, planning and working during the holidays to focus on resting, walking, riding my bike, hanging out with friends and family, and reading some of those books that have been stacking up on my bedside table.
May you experience all of the gifts of life this holiday season, especially the one you should give yourself – the gift of care. I look forward to reconnecting with you in the New Year!