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Regain your control!

Over the past few weeks, since I wrote ‘Leading through burnout’, I have had many people in my network open up about their current mental state, their feelings towards work, their work-life balance (or lack of it), their relationship with people in their household, and there have been common themes surfacing such as ‘lack of purpose’ and ‘inability to switch off’ due to increasingly blurred lines between work and home. This in turn has allowed the anxiety to reach new heights…

In this article, I have outlined five simple and practical ways to help you switching your mindset, regaining control and being more purposeful in your work and personal lives.

1. Be intentional about how you want to show up every day

When you live intentionally and with a purpose, you become mindful of how you choose to spend your day. This puts YOU in control, which is something very powerful and liberating, yet equally terrifying for the ‘people-pleaser’ inside you.

Living with intention, does not mean altering your behaviour or pretending to be someone you’re not just so others liked you more. It does however mean learning to adapt your mindset (“program yourself”) to show up in a way that is needed for the most positive and beneficial outcome for you and those you work with or lead.

For example, Michael Fisher CEO of CCMHC creates “to do” and “to be” lists. For the “to be” list he picks one to two qualities he wants to be especially mindful of that day. Say, “today I want to be generous and genuine”. Even though you might be that every day, having that on top of your mind, makes it intentional and more powerful. Hold yourself accountable or ask someone to help you with that.

2. Schedule “Flight time”.

We also need to become more intentional than ever in how we use our time. Prior COVID-19 or in the “old normal” many of us would travel a day or sometimes even more for a one-hour meeting somewhere. Now, many have realised that the time that goes into travelling often took us away from the valuable reflection, focus and restoration time. Therefore, since COVID-19 many leaders have adapted booking “flight time” into their diaries so they do not spend all day every day on video calls.

Last-minute meetings or urgent calls will always crop up but planning your diary in advance will ensure that everything else is scheduled, including your precious “flight time”.

3. Recalibrate your expectations of yourself and people around you

We are welcome to ask as much or little as we want from other people, but we better make sure that our expectations are calibrated to what the other person can realistically provide. If we are looking for the other person to do something for us that they can’t do, we become frustrated or upset. Same goes for inner relationship within us when we set an unrealistic goal and then don’t measure up to it, we give up and beat ourselves up about it (or even worse blame someone else).

Verizon Communications CEO Hans Vestberg shared a visual showing how he’s spent his time over the past three months during the crisis and how his energy has changed: “Ultimately, my job is to give energy, empowerment, and vision to the organization. If I’m down, I’m not really using the only asset I have as a leader. And I have bad days like anybody else. I tell my leaders, ‘You need to self-assess so you know what you’re good at, and double down on that in your own leadership.’”

4. Harness the power of real relationships

Deep and meaningful relationships play a vital role in overall well-being. Researchers emphasise that accepting support when needed and being willing and able to provide support in return, cultivate the types of mutually caring relationships that enable people to thrive.

There hasn’t been a better time to build relationships over networks. Networking events have been painful and awkward for many before the pandemic, let alone now… Relationships however have a real value, as people are opening about their current experiences and are more empathetic towards others. These experiences bring us closer as a humankind and as professionals. This gives us a platform to open up, connect and be heard, and be present for someone else at the same time. Win-win!

5. Reduce your screen time

The pandemic has made our screen time to go up considerably – video calls, e-mails, social media – even the weekend ‘switch off’ often ends up all day spent in front of TV watching Netflix. Digital devices are everywhere, and while they can enhance learning and build community, they can also interfere with everything from sleep to creativity.

The screen time impact on our health vary from vision, weight to sleep and overall health. A 2018 population-based study found that even as little as one hour per day of screen time was associated with lower psychological well-being, including less curiousity, lower self-control and more distractibility. However, people with 7+ hours of screen time a day were more than twice as likely to ever have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, treated by a mental health professional or taken medication for a psychological or behavioural issue.

In conclusion

As we are slowly accepting that this might now be the “new normal” we need to start recalibrating our BAU according to it. To adjust to the long-term impacts the pandemic changes have brought upon us, we need to address our own habits and intentions first and foremost. The old saying “it all starts with you” couldn’t be more appropriate now.


Sources and further reading


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