Advice for Graduates of Any Age… Why I “Focus on Five”

I have always thought it was important to share lessons learned - in the form of advice - through our own personal and professional experiences.

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I have always thought it was important to share lessons learned – in the form of advice – through our own personal and professional experiences. Whether you are graduating from college, starting a new summer internship or even in the prime of your career, sharing and receiving advice can be tremendously valuable. This year I began to focus on five things each day, no matter how big or small they are, that help shape what I do, how I stay healthy and ensure my day is a success.

Sleep and rest

The pandemic has impacted our schedules, the way we sleep and how we think about the need to get rest. In an article titled, “The 7 types of rest that every person needs,” author Saundra Dalton-Smith MD notes, “Sleep and rest are not the same thing, although many of us incorrectly confuse the two. We go through life thinking we have rested because we have gotten enough sleep — but in reality, we are missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need.” To help ensure I get the rest I need, I aim to take a few breaks throughout my workday for my mental health or take a walk outside and enjoy the outdoors. This idea that the sleep and rest are different is powerful for me because I have started to differentiate the two in my own life. Am I taking a break throughout my workday to make sure I am well rested? Am I spending my weekends staying active, but also finding time to rest and recharge? How many hours a night am I sleeping? Understanding that to be at my best, I need both sleep and rest has made a noticeable difference.

What you create and consume

As I wrote in a previous article, consuming the right things (articles, books, movies, etc.) has helped me move focus on what is important and where I want to spend my time. I try to consume positive content, especially during the evening, including reading a book or listening to music. Consumption of this type of content helps me find the silver lining and stay resilient, even when faced with challenges. I balance what I am consuming with what I am creating, whether it is a work email, a presentation or social media content. This includes making sure what I create is well thought out, personable and meaningful.

Your energy – health, hydration and exercise

The importance of staying healthy, being hydrated and getting exercise cannot be stressed enough. Being mindful of my water intake, nutrition, sleep and workout routine has certainly made a difference in my energy level. In the same way, meditation, with the help of a program Blue Shield of California offers called Wellvolution, helps keep my mental resilience strong. I try to get in some form of exercise daily, even if it is just taking a short walk or hike. While we continue to work from home, I also try to keep water on my desk as a constant reminder to stay hydrated. These may seem like obvious things to do and pieces of advice we have all heard, but I find being reminded of them periodically never hurts.   

Preparation

It is easy for life to get busy, and all of us at some point seem to run out of time during the day. So, whenever I can I prepare as much as possible. Even a little preparation before an activity can help improve results. By reviewing a meeting agenda, writing down a list of tasks and getting organized with a daily routine you can develop daily habits that help with time management and balance.

Being proactive

Remaining proactive has helped me achieve goals, try new things and commit to them. Recently, I started learning Italian and I now spend five to ten minutes a day studying the language. Once I committed to trying this and writing the activity down, I found it quickly became a habit. Perhaps a trip to Italy is in my future, but in the meantime, I will continue to be proactive about learning a new language, trying a new skill and listening to the advice of others, both personally and professionally.

What personal or professional advice do you have for others? What would you share with recent graduates?    

Don Antonucci serves as Senior Vice President of Growth for Blue Shield of California. He has more than two decades of experience in the health care industry and is the host of “Healthy Dose of Dialogue” podcast available on Apple iTunes or Spotify. The monthly podcast invites healthcare leaders to share fresh perspectives and engage in healthy dialogue about marketplace trends and industry insights impacting health care today.

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