By Mallory Stratton, Associate Editor at Thrive Global
“I couldn’t have done this without you.” Those words, when they come out of a manager’s mouth, may be music to our eager-to-please ears. But a desire to be seen as indispensable at work can come with a downside: In our attempt to go the extra mile (or 10), we may be sacrificing our own well-being.
It turns out, conscientious, highly dedicated employees are at greater risk of emotional exhaustion and conflict between their work and family responsibilities, according to a 2016 study from King’s College London and the University of Bath in the U.K. And other research has found that our drive to impress our boss and colleagues at every turn, borne out of hustle culture, comes at the high cost of burnout.
So how can you make your mark and add tremendous value without compromising your sanity and well-being? These tips can help:
By Jen Fisher, Chief Well-being Officer at Deloitte
We do a really good job protecting our things: We lock our homes. We lock our cars. We put up gates to safeguard what matters to us. But while we are great at setting physical boundaries, we’re often much worse at setting boundaries that protect our physical and emotional health.
And yet these boundaries are crucial: They give you the time and space to take care of yourself. What’s more, upholding your boundaries sets the tone of what you allow and expect from others.
There are certain boundaries in my life that I am very good about keeping. I habitually protect time and space for exercise and sleep — it’s a core part of who I am and how I live my life. For me, these are non-negotiable. And if I let those boundaries down, I know that over a period of time I’ll feel exhausted and I won’t show up as the person I want to be.
Of course, there are other boundaries that I’m not good at preserving — determining and sticking to your boundaries is a work in progress for everyone. But these are some of the best ways I’ve found to get to know your boundaries, enforce them, and get others to respect them as well.
Find your line in the sand. Not sure what your boundary is? You’ll know it when someone unknowingly says something or makes an ask of you that raises an internal flag and makes you uncomfortable. It may make you think, “That’s not who I am,” or, “That doesn’t feel right.” That feeling is a big red flag — a boundary is being pushed. The next step is up to you: Will you allow it to be pushed?
Sometimes it’s good to push boundaries — like learning to swim after being afraid of the water for most of your life, for example. It may lead to adventure, or personal or professional success. On the other hand, if you find yourself regularly negotiating away your personal guardrails, take inventory and assess how it feels. If it’s stressing you out, or pushing you to compromise in ways that feel counter to who you are, stop.
Bend, but don’t break.
Life doesn’t always go according to plan. When something pushes against your boundaries, consider how you can be flexible, but avoid compromising where it really counts. For example, if you usually exercise in the morning, but you work for a global organization and have early conference calls, consider another time you can carve out of your schedule without ditching your workouts altogether.
Even with my own non-negotiable boundaries, I’ve found easy ways to flex as needed. I prefer to go to bed between 9:30 and 10 p.m., but sometimes I choose to blow that up to hang out with friends. Of course, if we constantly allow ourselves to ignore the boundaries we’ve set, it’s a problem. And letting others’ priorities consistently take precedence over our own can also take a toll. It’s important to respect our own boundaries (as much as we can) so we set the same example for others.
Ask for what you need.
You’re entitled to set boundaries, but getting others to respect them starts with you. If you don’t talk honestly about your priorities, people won’t know what they are.
Be vocal about your boundaries in the early stages of any relationship. For example, if you know you need to leave work a little early on Tuesdays for an important appointment, clarify that need with your team at the start. Explain that it’s an important boundary in your life, and that you’d like their help in sticking to it. This is another spot where flexibility comes in: Maybe you can make yourself available early on Tuesday mornings to ensure that your team has access to you when they need it.
Not long ago, I was asked to speak at a very cool event. I really wanted to do it, but it was on a Friday morning during a week I was already traveling to three other cities. To get there on time, I’d need to land well after midnight the night before, then be on stage at 8:30 the next morning. So I was honest with the person who invited me. I said, “Can I make it work? Yes. But will I show up at my best? No. Can I help you find another speaker instead?” I was willing to do anything else I could to help, so that I didn’t overrun my boundaries and give the audience anything less than my best.
You can apply this idea to the workplace, too. If someone asks you to help on a project, or do something that pushes against your boundary, weigh the benefits. If the people or the project or the mission is important, then have a real conversation with the person. Maybe you can contribute in a different way, or at a different time, than what was asked — or just by opening up a conversation, you may be able to work with them to adjust the request so it’s doable for you.
Of course, if you’re working in an environment where you feel threatened or afraid to uphold your non-negotiable boundaries, think about whether this is the right workplace for you. If your boundaries are being frequently overrun, it will affect your mental and physical well-being.
Share your goals.
It’s important to talk about your boundaries and your well-being goals. Sharing those with others — in your personal and professional life — lets them know what matters to you as a person. And as a leader, being open and authentic creates a culture that gives others permission to do the same. It makes everyone feel that what matters to each of you matters to everyone else, even when your priority might be your kids, and another person’s might be their knitting group. With this mutual respect in place, people will show up to work and not feel resentment toward someone with different boundaries and priorities. Of course, some boundaries are private — and in that case, there is no pressure to share it so openly. But it’s good to remember that wanting to support someone else is human nature. If you know a person and like working with them and want them to be happy, you want to let them get home to marathon train, to have dinner with their kids, or to make it to book club. And then in turn, they support you. Speaking up about your boundaries and priorities empowers others on your team to set and stick with their own boundaries, better manage their well-being, and take control of their lives.
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by Tony Schwartz, The Energy Project
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning, before you even brush your teeth? Is it checking the e-mail that’s flooded into your inbox overnight? Does the pull feel increasingly irresistible, even Pavlovian? Do you get so immersed in responding to other people’s agendas that 30 minutes can go by before you even look up?
Here’s a radical proposal: Don’t check your e-mail at all tomorrow morning. Turn it off entirely. Instead, devote a designated period of uninterrupted time to a task that really matters.
For more than a decade, the most significant ritual in my work life has been to take on the most important task of the day as my first activity, for 90 minutes, without interruption, followed by a renewal break. I do so because mornings are when I have the highest energy and the fewest distractions.
I’m doing it right now, but in all honesty, it’s gotten tougher in the last several years. My attention feels under siege, like yours probably does.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.“One of the things that I was told early on is that you should never let them see you sweat,” Ursula Burns once said in an interview. Burns, then-CEO of Xerox, was reflecting on leadership advice she had received over the years. She continued, “I remember hearing that and saying: ‘Oh, my God! I think that they have to see you sweat.’”
When I first read that interview, I was a few years into launching JotForm and was still figuring out my leadership style. I had figured that the best leaders were stoic types -- Teflon-strong with impenetrable poker faces. Burns’ words were kind of a revelation.
Could emotions be a strength rather than a weakness?
In times of stress -- and in the startup world -- those are far from uncommon. Should entrepreneurs share, rather than smother their feelings?
Jen Fisher - Chief Well-being Officer at Deloitte
Kindness, in my opinion, has become a lost art. It costs nothing and benefits everyone, yet we are all so busy that we forget how a simple, genuine smile or a hello can change the course of someone’s entire day.
Kindness is also contagious—and while it should be spread across all facets of life, I’m an advocate for sharing kindness at work just as much as in our personal lives. When kindness is shared in the workplace, it has incredible benefits. One study, published last year, found that employees who received kindness not only paid it forward, but were 278 percent more generous than their control group counterparts. That same study found that employees who received kindness were happier after two months; and those who gave out kindness became less depressed and more satisfied with their jobs, and their lives overall.
So to promote kindness at work, and also in honor of World Kindness Day (Nov 13), here are 9 ideas for how you can spread kindness among your work family: ...
We typically think of intelligence in terms of knowledge or cognitive reasoning ability, but there’s another kind of intelligence that’s just as important -- if not more so -- in a business environment.
Emotional intelligence refers to someone’s ability to read, feel and respond to emotions, within both himself (or herself) and others. And, yes, that may seem like a phenomenal quality to have when managing personal relationships, but you'd be surprised to learn how much emotional intelligence can affect your productivity, as well.
Tenets of emotional intelligence in the workplace
You've just read a basic definition of emotional intelligence, but let’s look at how it functions in the work environment. The way I see it, emotional intelligence manifests in three main dimensions:...
By Jessica Hicks, Assistant Editor at Thrive Global
If you had a dollar for every time you hear “new year, new you,” leading up to 2020, you’d probably be a millionaire by the time the clock strikes midnight. We all like to talk about starting fresh when January 1 rolls around, yet we often set ourselves up for disappointment by making resolutions that are products of wishful thinking, instead of focusing on realistic and achievable goals. The key to making goals that last is starting small, with Microsteps — and there are so many minor changes you can make in your daily life that will have a major impact down the line.
These eight science-backed strategies — implementing the very latest research — are simple enough to incorporate into your daily or weekly routines, and are sure to change the way you work and live in 2020.
by Travis Bradberry
The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. At TalentSmart, we have conducted research with more than a million people and found that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.
There is some startling research that explores the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health (such as this Yale study, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control). The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.
By Zaria Gorvett
The Power of One Hour
There’s a scene in the classic sitcom The Office, where David Brent – the ultimate cringe boss, with zero self-awareness – is doing some motivational speaking. “Laughter is the best medicine,” he says, explaining to his staff that it reduces stress and that he likes to do it several times during the working day. He demonstrates the technique by bursting into a solo manic cackle; though it only lasts about 30 seconds, it seems to go on forever. The whole room stares back in lethal silence.
It turns out that, for once, Brent may have been onto something. He was inadvertently describing what experts call a “microbreak” – any brief activity that helps to break up the monotony of physically or mentally draining tasks. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes and involve anything from making a cup of tea to stretching or watching a music video.
Though the breaks are tiny, they can have a disproportionately powerful impact – studies have shown that they can improve workers’ ability to concentrate, change the way they see their jobs, and even help them avoid the typical injuries that people get when they’re tied to their desks all day.
Self-Help Book / Personal Development