Are you running on empty? Here are five tips to help you start the year with a full tank.
Reflection is an often underused but powerful way to refill your tank. And it’s key to maintaining perspective, making wise decisions and learning from experiences. Have you looked in the rear view mirror to reflect on how your year has gone? Now’s the perfect time to schedule an annual lunch with yourself to chew on your successes, accomplishments, disappointments and lessons learned.
Of course, reflection is not only an annual activity. Developing the regular practice of reflecting daily and weekly can be extremely helpful. Reflective prayer, meditation and inspirational reading feed the soul like nothing else. Likewise, reflective assessment of recent projects, relationship interactions and articles and books helps us glean lessons learned and also keeps the pool of ideas and insights fresh and full.
In a culture of distractions and sensory overload, we need to continually bring into focus where we want to go, what’s really important and who we want to be. Refocusing on values, aspirations and goals – whether at the personal, family, team or organizational level – helps remind us where true north is. And this makes it much more likely that we actually move in that direction.
There is such a focus to achieve results in our culture that it’s easy to neglect relationships – especially when work gets busy and demanding. Yet we are wired for relationships as well as results. When we are disconnected from meaningful and regular connection, we risk draining our tanks.
Robert Clinton and Paul Stanley, in Connecting: the Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed, advise us to build a constellation of relationships: mentors we learn from, peers we run with and others we’re mentoring. Being deliberate about fostering relationships in each of these categories can help us keep the tank full. Are you driving solo? Or do you build meaningful and energizing relationships up, down and across as you travel through life and work?
Exercise, travel, entertainment, music, sports, dancing, arts and crafts all have their place in refueling us. Which of these energizes you? Give yourself not only permission but a mandate to engage regularly in recreational activities and practices that feed and fuel you. Not only will you be more fulfilled and energized, but you will also perform better and have more to give to others.
I heard a successful business leader say he’s learned – in light of the increasing regularity of the peaks of busyness we face – to “plan the valleys.” For many of us, if we don’t make time for rest and downtime, it doesn’t happen – until we crash and burn. Carve out a week (or why not two?) for vacation this quarter where you unplug from work as much as possible. (Newsflash: your organization will likely be able to get by without you during that time.) Schedule a nightly curfew that gives you the sleep you need. Take a real, even if short, break for lunch every day. Sit down with family or friends over a relaxed dinner four to five nights a week. Build a rhythm of rest into your routine so you don’t overheat your engine.
Is the light on your dashboard telling you it’s time for fuel or service? Now’s a great time for a pit stop.
Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. In his work as a leadership consultant and executive coach, he helps leaders and their teams get the fuel and service they need to run well and get where they want to go. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.