I have a daily morning ritual: I wake up at 6:00 a.m. every day to get in two hours of personal time, which includes a workout, eating a healthy breakfast, listening to music, and focusing on my goals for the day.
But I didn’t always do this. For the first few years after founding AppDirect, my cell phone went everywhere with me, and I used it constantly. I was always on the clock, and I’d given up everything: I barely slept, I didn’t travel, I rarely made time for friends, and I had stopped exercising – it was work, work, work, all the time. A year after the company launched, I realized I needed to find balance and improve my overall health.
Finding this balance can be a difficult task, but small changes can have a big impact in helping you feel refreshed and productive, and steer you away from potential burnout.
Shift Your Attitude
I believe hard work is important to develop character, but adding unnecessary stress on yourself can create a feeling of suffocation and lead to burnout. Personally, I used to think that working around the clock would increase my chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur. It wasn’t until I heard Arianna Huffington speak at a Goldman Sachs conference in June 2017 on the importance of sleep and putting away my phone that my thinking began to shift: without the right balance, I’m not being effective, and I’m not making the best strategic decisions for my life or my company.
With this in mind, I committed to making a major lifestyle change. But changes like this don’t come easy – they take time, and setbacks may happen. Don’t let failure overwhelm you. Lifestyle changes require mindset changes, too, and having a positive mental attitude will help you stay motivated. I think I fail at something every day – but failure presents an opportunity learn, and brings you closer to a win.
Goal Setting: Start Small
Having a positive outlook on life is the first step, but then what?
One of the best pieces of advice I ever read came from Superhuman by Habit, a great book that enforces the notion of goal-setting to help you achieve more in life. The premise is to reflect on what is most important to you: Do you want to move up the corporate ladder? Take on a big career change? Or do you want to travel? Identifying your goal at the outset enables you to better align your priorities toward accomplishing it.
The next step is to make your goals more achievable by breaking them into smaller, more manageable pieces. This will help you establish habits you’ve struggled to create in the past, and accomplish things you didn’t think possible. Taking a methodical approach to tackling your end goals – whether you’re working toward the next big promotion or planning to take a year off to travel – will help you to achieve what you want and maintain a healthy balance.
While setting goals is important, staying on track is even more crucial. One of my best friends from college impressed on me the notion of having an ‘accountability buddy’ – someone you can share your goals with and who will keep you on track. Whether you have an exercise goal, a diet goal, a business goal, etc., having a buddy is imperative to your success. This person can be a manager or supervisor, or a close friend or family member – even your travel agent! As long as it’s someone you trust that will help you reach that milestone of success.
In the workplace, I’ve found that mentorship and training programs provide employees with achievable goals and keep them motivated. I love when my company hosts lunch-and-learns where my colleagues can share their passions – I’ve learned about everything from the Tour de France to rugby to traffic patterns – because I get to discover someone else’s interests and talents. By encouraging people to pursue their interests outside of work, you’re creating greater work/life balance.
Maintaining your overall health requires you to find the right balance of what motivates you, and goal setting is the most effective way to do that in your personal and professional life. Whether you have a 10-year plan, no plan, or something in between, starting with a basic goal drives you to determine what is most important to you and gives you a foundation from which to make decisions in support of achieving your dreams.