When was the last time you made it your top priority to get eight hours of sleep on a weeknight? Or go for a 30-minute walk when you get home for the day? If you’re in the “productivity rat-race” that has become corporate America, my guess is it’s been a while.
Recently I was talking with a client who had many signs of burnout: physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Being that he is in his mid-40s with a young family to provide for, retirement is not an option. Another complexity to his issue, that I hear all too often, he truly does love his job, it’s just getting to be too much.
The best rainmakers know there comes a point where you’re writing checks that your body can’t cash. And over the span of a career, the toll it takes on your health is much like any interest payment we make on loans: was the end result really worth the cost? What good is retirement if you are physically unable to reap the fruits of your labor?
I know it’s hard to prioritize self-care in a world where less hardly is ever rewarded with more, and your peers seem to be doing everything and beyond. Innovation no longer simply equates to better efficiency; it has come to mean working “smarter and harder.” We have new tools that are supposed to give us more time in our day to relax and recuperate, but we feel obligated to use that extra time to do more work.
Just like with business development, the key is carving out the time. I’ve come up with a few things you could try instead:
- Begin and end each day with 10-20 minutes of mindfulness (chapter 7, page 38 of Rainmaking Made Simple).
- Picking one weeknight every week where you get a full 8+ hours of sleep with no guilt.
- Finding an extra 30 minutes a week where you can turn one of your mundane activities into something physical, like going for a walk while listening to an audio book or checking LinkedIn on a stationary bike.
- Having one lunch a week outside (weather permitting) to soak up some Vitamin D.
- Incorporate times in the day to look away from your computer and phone for a minute or two.
- Skipping three fast food trips a month when you already have something at home.
- Taking one personal day per quarter to do absolutely nothing.
Often we think of the sustainability of a career as being tied to revenue goals. But ultimately the machine driving that revenue is your body and mind, and if you aren’t practicing sustainable maintenance on those two things as well, the revenue goals are meaningless. Adopt a few of these lifestyle changes and pay attention to what they do for your energy and comfort. My guess is you’ll start to notice that when it comes time to return to work, you’ll feel more up to the task than ever.
Be nice to yourself.