Let go, and live your best life in the new year
Monday, December 17, 2018
As the year comes to an end, many of us are thinking about what we’ve accomplished during the last 12 months and setting goals for next year. Organizations are looking at bottom- and top-line profits and measuring success and milestones.
A recent conversation with the CEO of a midsized company reinforced how crucial it is for leaders to take care of themselves and encourage their employees to do the same.
When Andre contacted me for my advice, he was feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the future of his organization. “We’re in process of opening up two new sites. I’m working all the time, and pushing my employees to do the same. No one seems to be working to my expectations. I’m irritable and short with people. My employees don’t seem to want to be around me, and we need to meet deadlines.”
Not only was Andre stressed but he seemed to be taking his stress viral. His employees were catching it.
According to an article in Forbes magazine, workplace stress costs organizations $190 billion in healthcare costs. This doesn’t include the loss of productivity, increase in low morale and negative impact on creativity and collaboration.
When people feel like they have no control over their life at work and/or home, or have a fear of the unknown or future, not only are they stressed but they have a hard time being present in their lives.
After probing further and meeting with some of his employees, I found out that Andre was acting so anxious about the future and, meeting deadlines, he was no longer asking employees for their feedback or ideas.
He was not sharing information, and his employees were feeling like they only heard from him when he had an order, or when they had made a mistake. This caused them to be stressed out and afraid to make decisions.
From being a great place to work, Andre’s company had become a real downer. “We used to have fun and love coming to work. Andre listened to us and put our suggestions into practice,” one of his employees told me. “Just because he has no life and works 24-7, he expects us to do the same.”
I know from my own experience of working at a job that consumed my life how dangerous that can be to one’s health and well-being. I kept putting off taking time for myself. I ended up getting severe headaches, anxiety attacks, constant colds and gained 60 pounds in one year. I started to blame my employees for my mistakes. I finally had to make a decision to change my life, if I was going to have a life.
I had to learn how to take control of my life, create happiness and joy, and manage fear and anxiety. I didn’t do it alone. I sought out “wellness mentors,” accountability partners and went back to school to study health education and stress management.
At some point I decided I wanted to help other people and incorporated mindful resilience and joy into my coaching and consulting practice.
I got Andre to sit down with no interruptions and commit to making small changes that could lead to a big change in outlook, productivity and life/work satisfaction.
After one week, he was a little mellower. After one month he was more present with his employees. After three months, I talked to his employees again. They were calmer, and less anxious because he was calmer.
“He’s no longer micromanaging me,” one of his employees said. “It feels like I can breath. I want to come to work again.”
There are countless websites, TED Talks, and reality shows that tell you how to live your best life based on their products, or some idea they’re selling; 10-day vision quests, drink apple cider vinegar, spend a year on a row boat with your spouse and three kids or quit your job and do multi-level marketing of vitamins.
What they don’t tell you is that everyone’s life is not the same, and we’re all not dealing with the same issues. There is no one simple solution but there are some processes that can be universally applied.
Living our best life is a process; it’s not an end-game. What we want today may be different in five years, and what made us happy five years ago may not make us happy today.
It’s not about what we have, or how much money we make. It’s how we show up in all areas of our lives and the relationships we build with people we care about.
I’m going to share three of the beginning steps in a process that works for me. I taught it to Andre and thousands of other people during the last 25 years. I call this process, “Let go, let in and live your best life.”
One: Decide what is would for you to live your best life. Take a few moments to imagine what your best life would look like daily and long-term.
Describe it in writing or pictures. Most of us are always in motion and need to stop and take our own inventory.
We all have the power to create our best life every day by letting go of what doesn’t serve us and choosing to make decisions about our actions and attitudes at work, home and everywhere else.
Two: Let go of what doesn’t serve you. That includes letting go of people, places and things you have no control over. This is a real time suck and creates too much unnecessary stress.
Let go of comparing other people’s lives to yours. Everyone carries some kind of baggage and you can drive yourself into an energy and time-wasting vortex.
Stop perfectionism. It will only make you feel bad about yourself and impact your work and the people around you.
Three: Let in curiosity, learning and mindfulness in each moment.
Pick something new every day to appreciate and express gratitude.
Look for joy in small occurrences and spread joy to at least one other person with a smile, kind word or good deed.
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