“How do you do it?”
“What do you work, like 24 hours a day?”
“I received the email you sent at 4:30AM.”
“You look tired.”
So often human resource professionals are concerned more about ensuring the health and well-being of the organization and the team putting themselves second. I’m constantly called on to solve issues, to be a diplomat, conflict resolver, to enable and help people see the path through a challenging time, whether personally or professionally. It’s been a deeply rewarding career but one that comes with a price.
I recall in the days following 9/11 and working down on Wall Street. I had invited a psychologist to assist and be available to our employees returning to the office for the first time in three weeks. We were all under stress and I recall her comments to me. “You are like a bank; people are coming to you, asking for your help and withdrawing from you. A bank cannot survive if there are only withdrawals and likewise you need to recharge yourself.” That was the first time in my career that this was said to me. But it was so true.
I’ve been through many changes mostly as a result of my career, as I’m sure many of my readers have; from office moves, M&A and post-acquisition integration, new CEO and leadership, and more recently financial setbacks, bankruptcy, and in the last year, prepping the company for a sale all while trying to ensure that our people were ok. It’s been incredibly busy but also incredibly rewarding. My concern through the last twelve months was sustainability; having the ongoing energy day in and day out to project an image of control and seeing these initiatives through.
I’ve learned some important tips over the years which have kept me sane. To be frank, it was sometimes difficult to do but I pushed myself to focus on my own advice. These tips include:
Give yourself time to recharge and reenergize. Being constantly connected drains our ability to rest and clear our minds. Countless times I’ve made the mistake of checking emails on the weekend and receiving that one which just ruins the it for me. One simple tip which I’ve started doing on the weekend is leaving my phone at home so as not to be tempted or distracted. After all, I’m usually with my family and these are the most important people in my life. Also, take your time. Americans not only receive less vacation days as compared to Europe, but a 2017 U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off study (https://www.ustravel.org/programs/project-time) showed 52 percent who left vacation on the table accumulated 705 million unused days last year, up from 662 million days the year before.
Train yourself to be in the moment and turn your mind off to the things you need to do at work tomorrow, or on Monday. Live in the moment. There has been increased awareness of ‘mindfulness’ which now seems to be the new buzz. Learn to appreciate the here and now. Time is fleeting and those we love will not be around forever, don’t miss those moments. I train myself to remember the smells, the weather, the feelings of the moment.
Find an outlet to harness energy, creativity, and health. For me, it’s hitting the gym at 4AM, yes that’s right, 4AM. I find the early morning workout is not only physically beneficial but more important it gives me the mental clarity to tackle the day ahead. It could be the endorphins, how I feel after the workout, or the pain I’m in afterwards, but it works for me. Writing also helps me. Putting pen to paper can be very cathartic and rewarding.
The work day can be a crazy chaotic mess. If you’re like me, I often can be enveloped by that one thing I did wrong rather than all the great things that happened during the day. Take a balanced approach on how you were able to contribute to others and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.
Taking the time to recognizing to be grateful for where you are is tough. It’s easier to compare ourselves against others who we may think are more successful. Appreciating how far you have come is so important. I am grateful every day for my family, my health, and having a role where I can contribute to my company’s growth and helping others achieve success. Showing gratitude is just as important. A simple ‘thank you’ has more power than some realize and it’s amazing just how infrequently we say those two words. Take the time to recognize those who are important in your life, find opportunities to volunteer and give back. It’s amazing what you will find out by yourself in the process.
Bottom line we are each different, and the way we choose to deal with daily stress can also vary. While sometimes these tips are easier said than done, like everything else, it’s a mindset and a discipline. Just find what works for you and go for it.