Habits

How to build better habits (That will actually stick)

Have you ever tried to build a new habit but by week 2, you’ve almost forgotten this habit existed? You’re not alone. We’ve got some impressive tips on how you can build better habits that you’ll actually stick to. 

Building habits is sometimes akin to your “New Year’s Resolutions”. It sounds good in theory but in the back of your mind, you already know that these new habits probably won’t last. 

It doesn’t have to be that way though. We’ve used some of the principles from Atomic Habits by James Clear to identify the best possible strategy for building better habits. 

Why building healthy habits is important 

Good habits are essential to a healthy life. They can make it easier for you to achieve and maintain a great and healthy lifestyle. 

Habits are often confused with goals or even a routine. Goals are aspirations you have that you’d like to achieve in a certain amount of time. Habits are things you do every day that contribute to the life you want to live. 

The difference between a habit and a routine is your awareness. Habits and routines are both repeated actions but habits run on autopilot while routines are intentional. 

Routines need active practice or they’ll eventually die out but habits occur with very little thought. 

Think about it like this, if you want to start journaling every morning, you have to intentionally make the effort to do it but if you have started the habit of smoking, lighting a cigarette first thing in the morning is done on autopilot. 

A habit then becomes a routine that is done frequently and automatically. Small changes make a massive difference over some time. 

This is why you need to create good habits rather than fall into the ease of unhealthy habits.  

6 valuable principles from Atomic Habits 

Atomic Habits shares some invaluable tips on how to create habits that are sustainable and that will serve you best in the long run. We picked out 5 of the top principles from this book. 

1. Don’t focus on goals, focus on systems of change

Rather than solely focusing on the goals you want to achieve, think about HOW you’re going to achieve them. 

Think about it, many successful people have the same goals. Olympic runners all want to win the same race but only one can actually win. And it’s about what that one runner had to do before that moment to have the ability to win. 

The same can be applied to your life. Think about the goals you have but focus on what you’re going to do every single day to reach those goals. If you don’t have the correct systems in place, you will never achieve what you set out to.  

2. Motivation is overrated. Environment often matters more

You aren’t always going to be motivated to do a particular thing. But if you create an environment that encourages productivity and has visual cues that trigger healthy habits, you’re more likely to be successful. 

You should also do your best to avoid negative temptations within your space and create specific areas for specific purposes so that you’re able to get the most out of your habits. 

3. Join a group 

We are a specifies that loves to feel connected and seek approval from like-minded individuals. 

A great thing you can do is join a group that exhibits the same traits that you want to emulate. People do well when surrounded by successful individuals that we wish to be like. 

Pro tip: Habit tracking (you can use a calendar or a journal) and accountability partners are wonderful ways to create good habits or stop unhealthy ones.

4. Focus on repetitions

To master something, you simply need to START. 

Aiming for perfection right out the gate almost always leads to failure. Rather focus on repetitive behaviours. You’ll notice that the more you do something, the better you become. 

Focus on making your habits quick and easy in the beginning. Don’t do it for longer than 2 minutes. Once you have gotten into the habit (see what we did there?) of doing the action, you can then focus on optimising it or increasing the time you spend on it. 

5. Make good choices automatic and unhealthy choices difficult

The best way to create healthy habits is to make them as simple and easy as possible so that you don’t even have to think about it. 

So for example, buy a large water bottle and set reminders to drink water every few hours. Remove the TV from your bedroom so you don’t stay up all night watching your favourite series. 

Setting reminders and making healthy things easy for you is the best way to form habits. Making unhealthy things difficult for you to do is the best way to break bad habits.   

6. Embrace feeling bored 

Habits that become everyday routines can start to feel mundane and boring. Don’t fall into the trap of changing things up! 

Welcome the feelings of boredom and stick to something even when you’re not in the mood to do it. The greatest threat to success is often thought to be failure but it’s actually boredom. 

Go back to number 1 and remember that it is the journey and not the destination that you need to focus on!

Remember that a habit is created over a period of time and your main focus should be never giving up!

Benefits of office culture

How to positively lead change in the workplace

Change is a constant in today’s work place but that doesn’t make it any easier for us humans to deal with. When facing change employees look to their leaders to see them through, and as leaders we have the opportunity to make change positive for our people. Workers may be loathed to leave the familiarity of their daily routine and comfort zone, and be hesitant or fearful that they will not be able to cope. It is with a positive attitude that leaders will persuade staff to embrace change and gain much.

“A LEADER IS ONE WHO KNOWS THE WAY, GOES THE WAY AND SHOWS THE WAY”-LAOTZU.

Change is complex and challenging but a work place that does not evolve cannot be competitive, successful or thrive. Change under the correct leadership can be the catalyst to innovation, improved organizational functionality, increased competitiveness, higher financial performance and greater customer satisfaction. For employees change under correct leadership can enhance skills development, performance and personal growth. Positive, innovative and visionary leadership result in sustainable change.

The role of leadership in organizational change

“OUR CHIEF WANT IS SOMEONE WHO WILL INSPIRE US TO BE WHAT WE KNOW WE COULD BE”-RALPH WALDO EMERSON.

More than ever, the role of leadership is of tantamount importance. Organizational leadership plays the   key role in the evolution and growth of a business. A good leader helps employees face and embrace the challenges of change, while working towards organizational goals in a worthy way.  The strategic role of a leader in change can include: allocation of resources; alignment; vision; deciding on the future focus of the business; gaining commitment and motivation from the team; and achieving sustainable growth. Successful change is reliant on effective and intelligent leadership. A leader’s foot prints should be everywhere.

Since 2019, COVID changed the way we live and work. Even without a global pandemic other organizational changes could be things such as different reporting lines, restructuring and changes in the number of employees. Many structural changes are being implemented as companies adopt a hybrid workplace where employees rotate in and out. This has, and will, transform a company’s culture, engagement and the way business gets done. Demographics have also changed with innovations in health care resulting in an increased multigenerational workforce. It is essential to adapt and be innovative in creating productive and united teams. There is also a focus and prioritization on diversity and inclusion in the workplace to combat discrimination and cultural bias.

Technological advances, changes in legislation, shifts in customer expectations and service, business decisions and diversification, all bring change that need to be responded to by leaders and their strategic initiatives. A “positive change strategy” results in rewards being reaped despite organizations being in uncharted waters.

Positive benefits of change in the workplace.

With change, you must anticipate that people are going to resist. As humans, we are wired to resist change, preferring the status quo, routine and a sense of security. A change results in psychological and physiological reactions in people. The unknown is uncomfortable, and our brains will tend to seek familiarity. If employees are not supported in change it can lead to demotivation, resistance, resentment, loss of talent, job insecurity and poor performance.

 It is the leader’s role to make, implement and drive successful change. Change can have a positive impact by adding value or transforming situations and people. Research indicates that an adaptable individual can flex their personality to continue to perform in a changing context. Adaptable employees can tap into the behaviours and mindsets needed to be both disciplined and creative, thoughtful and expressive, spontaneous and logical. These characteristics of being agile, flexible or versatile bring benefits not only to themselves, but also to the whole team. Critically studies show that adaptability is something that we can learn, develop and grow.

So what can you as a leader do to make your people, teams and business adaptable and flexible? Some key behaviours to implement successful change for leaders should be:

  • Have a vision and innovative approach

Having a clear vision of where the organization is heading, aligning the team and clearly mapping the destination clearly gives direction and motivation to your people to face and conquer the challenges of change.

  • Effective communication:

Communication is always key. Without clear communication and repetition of core messages, many will struggle to positively involve themselves in change. Communication elicits better employee engagement and relations. You need to communicate the WHAT and the WHY of the change.

  • Lead authentically:

To be truly authentic is to behave in a way so that needs are met. It’s a dance between staying true to values while being flexible and malleable. By leading with clarity and authenticity you can build a strong work culture and climate.

  • Celebrate small wins:

 Leaders who celebrate and appreciate goals achieved by their employees and subordinates motivate their teams. Frequently give recognition and rewards, to maintain enthusiasm and boost confidence.  

  • Be proactive about change: 

As a leader you have to always be fit for the future, the onus is on you to be a forward thinker. Develop a futuristic mindset that scans the horizon for change. One needs to be proactive and preempt the changes before they occur. Looking back and applying past experiences and predicting the future shifts will put you on the front foot. Keep current, fail fast when appropriate and recover quickly.  

  • Collaborate and include employees in change:

As a leader you need employees to trust and respect you so you can inspire and motivate. Scout out the innovative thinkers in the organization and collaborate with them including them in change plans. Empower the employees to act consistently with the new vision and help sustain commitment to it. Encourage them and adapt your strategy to suit your employee’s needs.

  • Find change agents and champions: 

Change agents can be internal such as managers or employees. It is the individual or group who takes the task of initiating and managing change in an organization. As a leader you need to identify change agents as they are vital to successful transformation. The following traits are desirable in change agents: experience, expertise, access, flexibility, representative characteristics, enthusiasm, organizational knowledge and influence

  • Foster psychological safety:

Leader-Member relationships are key to the success. Trust is earned and as leader you need to attract employees and subordinates. A supportive management style, not a dictative style, would give the desired result. Grow your empathy by putting yourself into other’s shoes. People working in psychological safe environments feel: included, accepted and respected. When people are respected they give more than their hands or the day to day grind, they are invested and give their minds and heads as well.

  • Create mechanisms for support and feedback:

Throughout change make employees feel supported. Make time for open discussion of problem areas, things that are going well and honest questions. Offer formal coaching and access to counseling. Informal support may involve a cup of coffee, regular check ins, practice active listening and have an open door policy. Be available, be approachable. Effective feedback is critical and helps people grow, adapt, and become better versions of themselves within change.

  • Reinforce job security:

When things change people feel insecure, leaders must reassure them that their jobs are not under threat. Job security is knowing that your job is safe and having the assurance that you will be able to work in your current employment for the for seeable future. As an employer you can increase job security for employees. Encourage learning and development, upskilling, lead with pragmatism and resilience. 

Conclusion

If you are a leader that understands the need for and benefit of change and the value of your people, you will be the organization that stands above competition and you will succeed in the ever changing environment of business. Take bold steps and foster your ability to be an agent of change. This is an ever green skill you can develop for yourself and your organisation. 

Goals for 2022

Things we’re going to START and STOP in 2022

2022 is the year to say goodbye to New Year’s Resolutions and say hello to Start and Stop Lists. We’ve identified a way for you to achieve your goals and make this year the best one yet!

A start and stop list is very similar to your run of the mill new year’s resolutions and they both have the same strategy in mind – to help you achieve your goals. January is the perfect time to stop and reflect on the year that just passed. Think about the highs and the lows and take note of exactly what you want to change to have a better new year. 

What is a stop and start list? 

It’s as simple as it sounds. A stop and start list is all the things you’re going to stop doing or accepting in 2022 and all the things you’re going to start doing to have a better year. 

Before creating this list, take a moment to sit back and reflect on everything that happened in 2021 – the good, the bad and everything in between. 

Think about the things you’d like to stop doing going forward, some things you’d like to begin doing and what you’d like to continue to do. 

Then create your list of everything you’d to;

START:  What will you START doing to be more effective and accomplish your goals?

STOP:  What will you STOP doing to free up time, resources and create greater focus? What will you stop letting affect you or keep you from achieving your goals? 

CONTINUE: What will you CONTINUE doing that’s working well and serving you and the life you’re creating?

New Goals

Some things to stop and start in 2022 

What to stop 

Procrastinating – It’s so much easier to put things off and get to it later but procrastinating only leads to more stress and is a hindrance to you achieving your goals. 

Comparing yourself to others – Social media has given us a snapshot into everyone’s seemingly perfect and fun lives. Remember this is a heavily filtered peak into a very small portion of someone’s true reality.

Putting off trying new things – Ever wanted to try yoga or start a journal or go mountain biking but talked yourself out of it? 2022 is the year to do at least one new thing and stick to it! 

Regularly binge-watching tv series – Honestly, this is more of a note to self but it’s a good thing for all of us to stop doing. Netflix has given us all the opportunity to binge-watch multiple series on end but this year, try to restrict how much tv you’re watching and still your time with some more productive or meaningful.

Filling all your free time with social media – If you really think about how much time you waste mindlessly scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, it’s actually quite scary. Maybe think of setting a limit on when or how often you can go on any form of social media in a day. You’ll probably find that you have a lot more time in your day.

What to start 

Looking after yourself and putting yourself first – Self-care is your top priority in 2022 because if you aren’t properly taking care of yourself, you can’t help those around you and you’ll struggle to achieve your goals. 

Making a list of goals and sticking to themNow, this isn’t a new year’s resolution like “I will start going to the gym”. These are specific things you want to achieve that will help you become a better you and get you to where you want to be in life. Thus your fitness goal would be something more specific like; “I will go to the gym 3 times a week before work”. 

Prioristing your health – If you don’t live a very active life, find some form of physical activity you love doing and make it a habit. Think about the nutrients you’re consuming and how you can eat better for your body. Consider eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking and ordering too much takeout. 

A new hobby – Make it a fun mission to do something new this year whether it’s painting, running or journaling. There are so many new things to try out there and it’s a great way to fall in love with this year. 

Planning for the future – When you’re thinking of the goals you’d like to achieve this year, start thinking about how these goals will help you get to where you want to be in the future. Work towards that promotion you’ve been thinking about, plan a budget that will help you save as much as possible for a future trip or to buy a house.  

 

Explore: 5 simple habits to improve your health and investments

Things to continue 

Taking care of yourself – You deserve to be loved by yourself first. Spend time with yourself and spoil yourself! 

Working towards your dream job – Don’t just talk about the dream job you want, continue working at making that dream a reality. 

Loving the people around you – The people in your life have helped you get to where you are, continue to show them the love and appreciation you have for them. 

Being kind to yourself – The year is going to have its ups and downs. It’s important for you to give yourself a break when things get tough. You’re doing the best you can. 

 

Just saying “2022 is going to be my year” won’t make it so. You have to actively work at making this the best year for you. There are some things you need to leave behind in 2021 and some things you have to push yourself to start doing this year. These are only a few of our suggestions, make your stop and start list personal to you and your goals. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve in 2022.

Focused

Everyday hacks to keep you calm and focused for a busy day

Busy days are pretty unavoidable, especially as we near the end of the year. This time of the year is filled with last-minute deadlines and cramming everything in before going on leave. It’s pretty easy to begin to feel overwhelmed, not to mention exhausted. But we’ve got some amazing hacks to prepare you for an upcoming busy day.

Waking up in the morning knowing you’re about to be snowed under by all the tasks you need to complete with very little time to even breathe is horrible. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. But there are ways of mastering your feelings and tasks without feeling like you’re drowning. 

The ability to stay calm, present and productive is valuable on any given day but it’s the tough days where you need these traits the most. 

Take it from someone that used to be a Master Procrastinator, there are a few skills I have mastered to keep me calm and focused on my busiest days. 

 

Explore: Mental Health Check-In Tips And When To See A Specialist

The importance of staying calm

As mentioned above, busy days are unavoidable and there’s almost no way of getting around the hustle and bustle of the year-end madness. If you approach these overwhelming days stressed and with a negative mindset though, you really aren’t doing yourself any favours. 

And yes, that’s definitely easier said than done but you have a very slim chance of being 100% productive when you’re frantic and the chances of making mistakes increases tremendously. 

It’s vital to find things that work for you that keep you in a positive and level-headed mindset so that you can completely dominate the day ahead. 

 

Related: Set yourself up for a positive day, everyday

Hacks to stay calm and focused 

Get enough sleep

When we’re busy, often our sleep patterns are the first to take a hit. Whether you’re staying up very late to get things finished or struggling to sleep because you’re overly anxious. The best thing you can do for yourself is to prioritise your sleep.

Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling lethargic the next day or cause you to make silly mistakes that will take even more of the time you don’t have to fix them. 

Make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep and if you’re struggling to sleep, find ways to calm your mind by reading before bed, drinking soothing tea or meditating.

 

Find out: How to beat afternoon fatigue

Have a plan 

If you know you have a busy day or a busy few days ahead, plan your day the evening before. Have a to-do list of the tasks you need to get done or even create a little schedule of how and when you’ll get everything done. 

This way you know exactly what to expect and you have an increased chance of having a productive day because you know exactly what you need to do. 

Compartmentalise

More often than not, busy days are just filled with far too many tasks and you simply don’t have enough hours. Or you’ve planned out your day but people around keep asking for help or you’re given a new task that you did not see coming. 

The best way to handle this is to look at the tasks as a whole and identify which ones are the most urgent. Categorise your tasks from most to least important and begin getting each task done in order of importance.

Focused

Discover: Setting boundaries at work for your mental health

Be patient with yourself

As much as we’d love to think it, we aren’t superheroes and sometimes you just can’t get absolutely every single thing done. The most important thing for you to remember is that it’s okay to not get it all done. 

As long as you’re doing the best that you possibly can, it’s enough. Don’t be hard on yourself. Make sure to plan your days and get as much done as possible but take each task and each day as it comes. 

Move your body 

Doing some form of physical activity each day will do wonders for your mental state. Being stressed and overwhelmed has a massive impact on your mental health. By moving your body in any way, you will alleviate some of the stress and get your endorphins flowing. 

Exercise also gives you a boost of energy if you’re feeling particularly run down. Now we know you’re pressed for time so we suggest going for an afternoon walk or taking a 30-minute break during the day and finding a way to move your body, even a quick dance break is highly recommended. 

Reward yourself 

You’re doing the best you can and rather than be hard on yourself, reward yourself. At the end of a hard day, sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and take a few deep breaths. Tomorrow is another day. Remind yourself that there still is time and you have the strength to get through it all. 

Busy days can be daunting but instead of just diving in, take a step back. Look at the situation as a whole and break it into bite-sized chunks. By planning your day and reminding yourself to take it as it comes, the day won’t seem so overwhelming. 

You’ve made it through busy days before, you’ll thrive through the next one!

Career growth

How to Bloom Where You Are & Succeed

By Jessica Brownlee

Even if you feel your life circumstances are less than desirable right now, you can choose to bloom anyway!

It can easily feel like life is throwing you some pretty nasty surprises, or just keeps dealing you a rotten hand of cards. While you can’t change certain things and just need to play the cards you are dealt, you can in the midst of less than ideal situations choose to make the best of your circumstances and bloom anyway.

With spring in the air a popular mexican proverb comes to mind, “they tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds”. You may have had a particularly difficult past few months, I think most of South Africa and the Global population has faced some sort of challenges, and naturally on some days it feels like we are a little seed buried deep in the dark soil. One thing we don’t want is for you to be all cavalier and ooze toxic positivity about your challenges, because they do matter. What you feel and what you’ve been through matter. But with Spring upon us we want to encourage you and help you find ways to leverage your enduring human spirit, boost your mood and bloom in the midst of it. 

Just like a wildflower blooming in the spring, you too will go through stages. Getting to a place of happiness, satisfaction and genuine optimism is a process. As Wellbe, we want to share some tools and tips with you to help you bloom and attract what you desire in life. Just like that wildflower you walked past in the park or the one growing in the cracks of the paving outside your office, it all starts with a little seed. Here are some practical little seeds for you to plant to allow yourself to bloom:

Bloom where you are

Shift your mindset

Too often we think that happiness or fulfillment will be attained if we can just get there or do this or be more like that. We want to challenge you to acknowledge that you already have everything you need to be happier, more content and to fulfill your potential. Perhaps this spring you need a mindset shift, from scarcity to abundance. A scarcity mindset is rooted in the belief that there is not enough. For example, you may believe you do not have enough time, money, resources, work and opportunities to achieve your goals or be more content. But the truth is that your inability to see the abundance around you is what is limiting you. You need to try shift to an abundance mindset, one which focuses on surplus rather than limits. By focusing on abundance, or what you have enough of, you will feel calmer, be more resilient and set yourself up to bloom. Next time you find yourself dwelling on what you do not have enough of, shift to focusing on what you do in fact have plenty of and see how your life changes.

Tune in to your physical health

It is almost impossible to live your best life if you are feeling under the weather and lacking vitality. You can truly thrive by tuning into your physical health and your physical needs, as much as you do your emotional or social needs. Remember managing your physical health may look very different to your friends. Try new things and focus on what works for you, if it’s a daily walk over HITT or eating more carbs than fats, do that. Get back to basics focusing on balancing blood sugar, moving and sleeping. Our bodies are all unique and it is never a one size fits all.

Be Proactive about your goals

All too often we get caught up in the here and now and we neglect to take actionable steps towards our future desires. An important part of feeling content, and blooming where you are, is deliberately working towards something meaningful for you. In fact, psychologists call this the happiness of excellence, it is kind of happiness that comes from the pursuit of something great. Find something that you want to work towards whether it is a fitness journey, a personal growth goal, redecorating your patio or replanting your garden or a new skill for your career and take proactive and measured actions towards it.

Build your social connections

Joy is increased when it is shared. You cannot bloom, grow and thrive without healthy and fulfilling social connections. By genuinely bonding and connecting with others you are meeting many important basic human needs. Take time this spring to spend some quality time with one or two people who build you up. Do something nice for someone else and enjoy their feelings of joy and gratitude. When life is challenging it is easy to focus inwards, but by focusing outwards you are allowing yourself better perspective on your challenges and sharing the load.

Take time to do the work and get to know yourself

Often we are motivated and content when we are doing things in alignment to our core values and interests. Take some time this spring, before genuine silly season sets in, to explore your strengths, values and what makes you truly happy. You could spend time doing a journal, a vision board, speak to a trusted advisor or just set time aside to reflect on who you are and why you value yourself. Getting in touch with yourself can be immensely rewarding, build your self-esteem and enhance every area of your life, as you genuinely come to know what you want.

Perhaps when working through these tips and tools you can identify a few more little seeds that you can plant or habits you can water that will bring you more contentment, joy and thriving, right where you are. Spring has sprung, take the new season and the warmer weather as inspiration to start fresh and live a more fulfilled life. 

 

 


 

About Jessica Brownlee

Jessica is an industrial and organizational psychologist specializing in learning, leadership, talent, neuroscience and wellness. A self-proclaimed wellness geek, Jessica writes The Humble Humanologist blog to inspire, motivate and uplift others on their work and wellness journey. She is her own boss, running a consulting company, Psychology360 (www.psychology360.org) and consults globally to some of the leading organizations. Jessica also strives to find balance and is an avid yogi and yoga teacher (who is yet to master a hand stand).

Instagram: @thehumblehumanologist

Facebook: Psychology360

Website: www.psychology360.org

Boost your Career

Does your career need a boost or is it more than that?

We’ve all felt like we’re stuck in a rut at some point. Be it in our personal lives or professionally, there are times where you feel that you need more or simply that something needs to change. Navigating these feelings can be difficult though.

How do you determine if it’s time for a promotion or even a new job? How do you know if you’re burnt out and need to focus more on your personal happiness? Feeling the need for change is one thing but knowing why and what changes to make is vital.

There are many reasons why we feel this way so we’re going to dive into ways you can understand what you’re feeling and figure out what you need to do. 

Struggling professionally

Ever spent a work day feeling miserable, annoyed at everyone and constantly wondering “why am I even doing this?” If you’ve ever felt anything like this, it might be time to consider the following:

It’s a good idea to upskill

These are just a few signs that it’s time to add some new skills to your repertoire;  

  1. People are being promoted around you 
  2. You find yourself getting bored easily 
  3. You’re constantly asking others for help with your tasks 

You might be sitting here and thinking but how is learning a new skill going to change anything? 

Upskilling yourself gives you the opportunity to branch out into something new and interesting while giving you the chance to add a new level of value to your company. Learning something new or mastering something you already know will give you a new sense of purpose and reignite your passion in the workplace. It is also never a bad idea to invest in yourself and learning new skills is the best way to do that.

Even better, you can use online courses from sites like Udemy that offer cost-effective options for you to expand your skillset. And you don’t even have to leave the house!

 

Career Success

Should you be asking for a raise or promotion? 

Knowing when and how to ask for a raise or promotion isn’t easy but these are a couple of signs that indicate it really is time to ask. 

  1. You killed your performance review 
  2. You’ve upskilled yourself and can now be considered as overqualified for your current position
  3. You’ve taken on  more responsibilities at work 

Asking for a raise or a promotion is a little daunting and can feel like an impossible task. There is definitely a lot that should be considered before doing so. According to this Forbes article, there are 5 major things you should think about before you make your request.

What stands out from that article is that preparation is key! Make sure you can adequately show why you deserve the raise or promotion, understand what your role is worth and know how to position yourself correctly to show the value you can add. 

Maybe it’s time for a new job 

It is so disheartening when you feel like you’re giving your all to a job that is giving nothing back to you. We spend the majority of our lives at work so when it’s not enjoyable, life as a whole can feel pretty ‘meh’. There are many reasons to find a new job, a few of them are;

  1. You’re often bored.
  2. It’s a toxic work environment
  3. It’s starting to impact your mental health
  4. You are constantly being overlooked for any promotional opportunities 

Always remember that your happiness, mental health and goals come before any job. If you are not satisfied in your current company or position then move onto bigger and better opportunities. 

Start off by really thinking about what you want and then begin browsing job listings on LinkedIn. This article by Balance Careers has some really great tips on how to get started! Starting a new job is often quite scary but the thrill of boosting your career is just SO worth it.

It’s personal 

You might find that you’re feeling really unmotivated and miserable at work but it has nothing to do with your company, your job role or anything work-related. This is when you have to really be mindful and understand where these feelings are coming from. 

Creating the elusive work-life balance can be a struggle and the fear of burnout is real. This is why it is so important for you to set boundaries within the workplace. You’ll find that once you begin to prioritise yourself, your goals and your mental health, everything falls into place. 

These are some of the best ways to overcome personal struggles that are impacting you professionally; 

  1. Begin each day on a positive note – a positive mindset can change everything!
  2. Be aware of imposter syndrome and how this is affecting you. Read more about imposter syndrome here. 
  3. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Perfection doesn’t exist so simply do the best you can.

Most importantly though, be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself. Life is difficult and we often feel endless pressure to be the best (thanks, Social Media). Simply take each day as it comes and make sure you’re doing the necessary work to keep bettering yourself.  

Whether you are struggling personally or professionally, it is time to make a change and take ownership of your own life. You’ve got this!

Boost your career

How to be professionally successful and feel it

By Jessica Brownlee

What is professional success, how can you get it and how to boost your feelings of accomplishment?

We all have goals and desires, things we want to achieve, work towards and aspire to. For many, being successful in their profession means reaching a goal, accomplishing something, achieving a level of status or expertise in their profession or just feeling good at what they do. The thing about being successful is not only about the things you measure and see but how you feel about those things. 

Success is a very personal thing, and sometimes despite what it looks like to others we just don’t feel successful. And how you define and see your success is important. It influences your drive, motivation, your choices, priorities and ultimately what you pursue. So it kind of makes sense that to be successful and feel successful, you need to first know what success is to you.

Another secret of professional success is that success generally begets successes. When you feel like you have achieved something noteworthy, your reward center in your brain is activated, releasing all those feel good hormones, which in turn re-energizes, motivates and inspires you towards more success seeking behavior. 

Clarifying your perception on professional success

Professional success really is personal, relative and contextual. Often the problem with our current mindsets and definitions of success is that we are subconsciously influenced by society and adopt external perspectives on what we define as our professional success. In fact, it is naïve to believe you have reached your current perception of success objectively and independently. For example, the unrealistic comparisons we make with others’ career posts on linkedin or any social media platforms makes us feel that perhaps we are not achieving at the level of others. Sometimes these unrealistic comparisons mean we see our peer group as earning more, achieving more and getting more status than us on a frequent basis, eroding our feelings of success.

Your current physical and mental state can also make you feel unsuccessful. Our body’s energy levels impact our decision making. Numerous studies have shown that your physical body shapes your mind. A hungry, tired or depleted person is more likely to come to a negative assessment of their professional success than someone who is rested and experiencing balanced blood sugar. Similarly, someone who is pessimistic or in a negative frame of mind, perhaps from sustained stress at work or the pandemic, is more likely to not feel successful than a person who is in mentally healthy space.  

Another thing to consider is how you are measuring your success, you may use measures of success which are stacked against you, making you feel like a failure again and again. What do we mean by this? A great example is you might be measuring your success purely on your annual income instead of your work life balance. So you earn less than your friend in their job but they work at least 60 hours a week compared to your 40. Similarly, research by Lean In shows women are less likely to receive a promotion to manager than men, which implies if you are a woman measuring your success by an increase in seniority of position instead of an increase in your expertise or achievements, you will feel unsuccessful despite the odds being stacked against you and your professional performance. 

So an important starting point to boost your professional success and feel fulfilled is to clarify your perception. Awareness is key to achieving your success. A great way to do that is to reflect and build your understanding, try working through these example questions to craft a professional success vision for yourself:

  • What do I value about my work?
  • What do I value about myself at work?
  • What are my unique strengths I bring to the table?
  • What are deal breakers and dealmakers for me in my profession?
  • What am I proud of and why?

Boosting your professional success 

Now that you have insights into your perception of success, let us look at ways you can really be and feel successful. Maybe you find you’re doing everything you can to be professionally successful but you just do not feel successful. While some small mindset shifts and focus areas will ensure you’re more successful, half the reason you are pursuing professional success is to feel good about your work, yourself and what you can accomplish. Here are our top eight suggestions to boost your success, letting you really feel and live the successes you envision:

  1. Be aware of your strengths:

Being aware of your unique talents and strengths definitely allows you to seek out and identify opportunities where you can leverage these. You can also make sure you develop the areas of yourself to compliment your strengths and grow your success.

  1. Assume responsibility:

A major difference between mediocre and successful people is assuming responsibility. It is not about taking things personally but rather taking responsibility for the part you play, in both positive and negative happenings and assuming responsibility for all your actions.

  1. Set stretching goals and standards:

That is the thing about being successful, it requires you to reach a little higher and try a little harder. You need to take time every now and then, perhaps quarterly, to assess how far you’ve come and what you could do to raise your standards. As we always say, there is no learning without a little stretch, just like you cannot build fitness without effort.

  1. Know your personal brand:

You will need to know your personal brand. Just like companies are spending time and money on differentiating themselves with their brand, so too do you need to brand yourself as a professional. Your work and professionalism is your brand and you need to ensure it is desirable, consistent and aligned to your professional goals.

  1. Build networks and relationships:

Just as important to what you know is who you know. Not only can networks and connections open doors for you, you will also need human to human support in your professional sphere. Think collaboration, brainstorming or just some positive affirmations from those you work with.

  1. Be curious and learning obsessed

You’ve heard it a million times, but that doesn’t make it old hat – change is the only constant. You cannot stay on top of your game and be successful unless you constantly unlearn, relearn and innovate. Seek new skills, experiences and opportunities in everything.

  1. Be aware of imposter syndrome

According to Harvard, Imposter syndrome affects high achievers more. It is the feelings of self-doubt you get around your abilities and feeling like a fraud at work, like you do not deserve to be there and despite evidence to the contrary that you are not competent. Knowing when imposter syndrome is creeping in can help you keep it in check.

  1. Be Well

As we mentioned, your success is contextual and affected by your environment. Make sure you look after yourself both physically and mentally to give yourself the best shot at being successful.

Boost your career

Boosting that successful feeling

We all know that feeling of achieving something we have been striving towards. While you are pursuing this super successful profession and achieving goals left, right and center, it is important to make sure your success is sustainable. Sure success, like anything, happens in peaks and valleys. There will be times when all the hard work you’ve put in will culminate in a successful project or some noteworthy accomplishment and recognition. And in other instances you might feel like you are stagnant without progress. It is important to boost your successful feelings and remain motivated and engaged in your pursuit, after all good things take time and effort.

Specific brain chemicals are responsible for some of those positive, good vibes we feel when we achieve something. Dopamine, which makes us feel really good, is highest when we are about to achieve a goal rather than when we actually achieve it. The expectation of success triggers a good feeling, releasing energy and renewed attention as well as the tendency to seek things out. You can encourage this feel good moment even more so by stopping once in a while and reflecting on the progress you’ve made and how far you’ve come. Savor that moment just before you knock the ball out of the park. 

Spend time reflecting and taking stock of your successes. In society today we are so wired to look towards the next big thing, we often forget to pause and notice what we have just accomplished. Make a habit of consciously pausing on the high points of your professional journey and remembering them often. If this feels too prideful for you why not try it as a gratitude journal. 

Finally, and we cannot stress this enough, celebrate the small and big wins. Just like running a few seconds faster per kilometer is you moving towards your next pb so is your boss asking you to take the lead on a meeting or trusting you with a decision. It is easy to only focus on the big things, and forget the incremental small wins which are additive to and crucial in our successes. Celebrate these small wins with a personal reward, a humble brag to a close friend or just mentally appreciating them. After all, you need to be your biggest supporter.

A word from Wellbe and Jessica 

Through sharing knowledge and experience, we want to help you become your most successful self. In your professional success we believe you can help us build more successful communities, organizations and people. Because when we are the optimal version of ourselves, both physically, emotionally and mentally, then we all thrive.  

Your health is your wealth so make lasting changes, one habit at a time.

The WellBe Team


 

About Jessica Brownlee

Jessica is an industrial and organizational psychologist specializing in learning, leadership, talent, neuroscience and wellness. A self-proclaimed wellness geek, Jessica writes The Humble Humanologist blog to inspire, motivate and uplift others on their work and wellness journey. She is her own boss, running a consulting company, Psychology360 (www.psychology360.org) and consults globally to some of the leading organizations. Jessica also strives to find balance and is an avid yogi and yoga teacher (who is yet to master a hand stand).

Instagram: @thehumblehumanologist

Facebook: Psychology360

Website: www.psychology360.org

Mindfulness & Career

How you can bring mindfulness into the workplace and work relationships

By Jessica Brownlee

What exactly is mindfulness, how can you practice it at work and in the professional interactions you have?

Mindfulness may not be a new concept, in fact in recent times it has been a bit of a buzzword. It is a popular tool or practice which is pretty accessible to everyone and offers a myriad of benefits. Mindfulness itself has a lineage in human history extending beyond 2500 years ago. And while it has taken on new forms and practices, the essence of mindfulness has stood the test of time. With its earliest roots in Buddhism, the modern practice can be understood as a form of mental training. And what the ancient and old did thousands of years ago is finally getting some of the spotlight in modern science, proving itself again and again.

As humans we are hardwired to always strive for the next thing and never be satisfied, it is the nature of our consciousness. The appeal of mindfulness is that it slows us down and brings us into the present. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of modern mindfulness is quoted as saying, “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little”.  And that is the crux of it, the world passes us by while we tweet, Instagram and email. We miss the little things in the moment which are actually the sum total of our lives.

The power of mindfulness is it is always available to you whether you are dealing with disappointment, stress, loss or personal challenge. It is a way to remove yourself from the human condition and acknowledge what you are going through and grow through it. Research shows many benefits of mindfulness including reducing stress, physical health improvements, enhanced cognitive function, positive social outcomes and even possibly living a longer life.

Mindfulness is certainly a valuable tool for you to utilize to help you WORK WELL. Let’s face it, work is an integral part of our lives, and as much as we love our jobs and that we can pay the bills, it can be a significant source of stress. With any job there will be more pressurized days, deadlines, anxiety provoking situations and difficult conversations. And that really is where mindfulness can help. 

What exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is simply about paying attention to the present moment, in a non-judgmental way. Mindfulness is the ability to stay in the present moment and to focus your thoughts on what is happening in the here and now. It’s our ability to not think about the past or the future but to instead observe what is happening right here and now. Mindfulness can equip you to not be yanked around by your emotions. It is simple and effective, allowing you to get the most out of every moment. With the changes in the workplace, innovation, always on tech and the fourth industrial revolution it is more important for us now than ever to disconnect, take control of our anxiety and be present in the moment.  As Emily Dickinson said, “Forever is composed of nows”.

Apart from being an appealing way to live your life, mindfulness has some science backed advantages. Various studies have found so many benefits, including:

  • Frequent mindfulness or meditation practice actually changes parts of your brain on an MRI in your amygdala. 
  • Harvard researchers have shown a positive impact of regular mindfulness practice and depression.
  • Mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety, reducing cortisol and resulting in a physical reduction in the body’s stress induced inflammation response. Blood pressure and improving stress-induced physical conditions.
  • Mindfulness can increase your resilience and promote emotional wellbeing, making you less depressed, reactive and prone to negative thoughts while increasing your coping skills.
  • Practicing mindfulness can increase your self-awareness, acting as a trigger for many positive changes in your life. 
  • Mindfulness using focused-attention meditation is like weight lifting for your attention span. It helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention, enabling you to better redirect and maintain attention.
  • It can boost your mental clarity and memory, keeping your mind young.
  • Mindfulness can positively impact your relationships, making you more likely have positive feelings towards yourself and others, acting in a kind and compassionate manner.
  • It can be a useful tool to control pain and improve your sleep. Who doesn’t want more, better sleep?

Ultimately, mindfulness is a great tool to cultivate a well, meaningful, and happy life at work and home.

Mindfulness at work

Being mindful at work

Look past your thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of This Moment.” – Rumi

Practicing mindfulness at work is so easy, accessible and practical because it is something that can be done in a short space of time, in any setting. While it’s not something that comes naturally for us especially with the many distractions at work that demand our attention and focus, there are many ways to bring yourself into the present moment. Instead of being bombarded by information, jumping between texts, emails and notifications we need to carve out some time to check in with ourselves, connect and be content with the present.

We thought we would share some mindful practices that would be particularly useful in the workplace. Try carving out 60 seconds throughout the day to practice some of these, pick and choose what feels good to you and make some space for it in your day:

  • Practice gratitude: by practicing gratitude we can bring our focus onto things that are good in the here and now. And focusing on the present positives lets us cultivate a more positive future.
  • Check in with your body: your body is the vehicle you experience life through. Take a moment to pause and feel bodily sensations – they are all little signs of your experience. Where are your aches or pains? Do you feel light or heavy? Where are you holding tension?
  • Fire up your senses: one of the simplest ways to be in the present moment is to observe what is going on around you and within you. Work your way through your 5 senses and fully take in the moment.
  • Focus on your breath: focus your mind and bring attention to your breath and notice how you are breathing. Take a moment to observe it before you try to do 5 deep belly breaths, focusing on the inhale and exhale.
  • Observe your thoughts: here’s a fun game – stop what you’re doing and start observing your thoughts. Can you do that? What do you notice? Try it and see what happens!

As you become more comfortable practicing mindfulness, try to do so more frequently throughout the day to reap the benefits for you.

Tips to being more mindful with co-workers

It is important for you to understand how mindfulness can benefit your relationships at work and how to be more mindful when you interact with others. When you are mindful, you are more emotionally balanced, allowing you to react to others in a more professional and empathetic manner. Let’s face it we are social beings and the workplace is one of many social situations where we have and need relationships. In-fact relationships are critical to work. 

Here are some tips to assist you in building more mindful interactions with others:

Be aware of your ego

Often our reactions or unhealthy relationship tendencies stem from our ego, an unhealthy one. An unhealthy ego can mean we take things too personally, become defensive, arrogant and play the victim. Using mindfulness to grow your self-awareness you can cultivate a healthy ego with positive self-talk and reacting from a place of genuine empathy rather than fear. Be aware of the feeling when your unhealthy ego wants to kick in. A mindful/healthy ego can observe what is happening to them, not react, and return their attention back to the other person, fully listening and not conjuring up their response.

Start meetings with mindfulness

Begin meetings, whether in person or online, with 60 seconds for everyone to really arrive and center themselves. This gives people the opportunity to bring their best selves to the meeting, both mentally and emotionally. It gives you the opportunity to clear away the clutter of the day and be really there.

Practice mindful listening

Mindful listening goes beyond active listening, it is the act of shutting out noise and distractions to give someone your full attention. As Jon Kabatt-Zinn said, when mindful it is about “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”. The average person only remembers a quarter of what was said in a conversation, the goal of mindful listening is to silence your own internal noise and external distractions to hear the entire message. Try to be present, aware of your own triggers and cultivate empathy.

Give others your full attention

Embody mindfulness and pay full attention to others, that means minimizing distractions and making a point of focusing on them. Wouldn’t you like to feel heard and validated without someone taking calls, texting or surging on social media in your presence. Stay present and practice non-judgement in your interactions.

Accept yourself and others

It sounds like a lot of work, accepting yourself. But once you do, it becomes easier to accept others. Acceptance is the fundamental building block of trust in a relationship and fosters understanding between you and others. If you interact with others in a judgmental way, it’s likely they will resist your points of view and probably disregard the valuable insights of any interaction with the judgements.

Show coworkers’ appreciation

In order to appreciate others, we need to show them we appreciate them which in turn enhances and deepens our relationships. At work this can look as simple as praising and showing confidence in someone else’s point of view or a piece of work. Try to find ways to praise someone aside from performance, such as their positive attitude on a project or their other contributions at work. By showing appreciation you can build trust and respect.


About Jessica Brownlee

Jessica is an industrial and organizational psychologist specializing in learning, leadership, talent, neuroscience and wellness. A self-proclaimed wellness geek, Jessica writes The Humble Humanologist blog to inspire, motivate and uplift others on their work and wellness journey. She is her own boss, running a consulting company, Psychology360 (www.psychology360.org) and consults globally to some of the leading organizations. Jessica also strives to find balance and is an avid yogi and yoga teacher (who is yet to master a hand stand).

Instagram: @thehumblehumanologist

Facebook: Psychology360

Website: www.psychology360.org

POSITIVE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

WANT A THRIVING WORKPLACE? CREATE POSITIVE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

By Jessica Brownlee

Our tips and insights into being successful at work you do, by valuing and investing in people …

Growing your business and being successful is hard, especially in times like these. We all want to make more money, smash those business goals and just feel like we are achieving our best lives at work. And yes, your customers are the heart of your business. But your employees and people you work with are the life blood. Think about it, you cannot get a single thing done without your people. Literally, not a single thing (barring what you can achieve on your own steam, of course).

When we think of increasing our business or product value we often immediately think of the customer. But what about the employees and people driving the value? Just as customer service has transformed over the years, along with the customer, into customer experiences (the holistic perception customers have of your brand or business stemming from every interaction they have with it) so too do we need to transform our employees’ engagement and happiness by intently focusing on their employee experience. After all your employees are your first customer, and the human side of your brand. 

If the fiscal side of employee experience doesn’t captivate you (we all have different motivations) consider how much of our lives we spend at work and that you as a brand or employer have the power to make someone’s workplace, and by implication life, better, more positive and happier. If there is ever a time to flex your altruistic muscles and show some kindness to others, the middle of a global pandemic and on-again-off-again lockdowns would be it!

POSITIVE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

The deal with Employee Experience

A positive employee experience is more than just a decent place to work. Employee experience is a combination of your workplace culture, the physical work environment and the tools and technology which enable the work. As an example, when you go to work you want to experience a sense of belonging and shared purpose (culture), where you feel safe, can attain goals and grow while working in a healthy, safe and well environment with a technology or machinery that enables you to be efficient and perform. As leaders or business owners if we don’t address and manage all the factors impacting our employee experience we may pay a heavy cost. To convince the stoic and unmoved out there, here are some tangible examples of employee experience impacting the bottom line:

 

  • It is a proven fact (by science, people) that a happy employee is 20% more productive, imagine losing 20% of your employees’ production every day for a year. That’s a full day a week, almost full week lost a month just because your employee is unhappy. 
  • An engaged workforce outperforms one that is lackluster by tripling profit to 147% profit per share.
  • A positive employee experience creates an engaged workforce. Annually disengaged employees cost the USA $450 to $550 billion a year!
  • Managing your employee experience allows you to shape your culture and culture eats strategy for breakfast.
  •  To have talent and the best employees who give of themselves at work, they need to feel appreciated, and that means more than a competitive paycheck. Google increased employee satisfaction by 37% thanks to their investment in employee support.
  • Another hidden cost of poor employee experience is the increase in sick leave and absence, an unhappy employee takes 15 more sick days a year.
  • If you are in a highly competitive industry, positive employee experience can give you the edge with increased innovation and performance from your employees. Happy people just think and work better!

Insights into Your Business’ Employee Experience 

If we want to focus on cultivating positive employee experience, a good starting point is understanding what and where it is now, establishing your status quo. Understanding your employee experience can be simplified into two main focus areas:

  • What do your employees expect, want and need?
  • How does your business design the solutions to meet the wants, expectations and needs of employees?

You can understand your employee experience by evaluating three things:

  1. The physical space: 

Evaluating your workplace design and its impact on interactions, daily work life and wellness.

  1. The workplace technology: 

Embodying frictionless technology that enables and supports performance.

  1. The company culture: 

Understanding and building the right behavioral norms, values and policies on what is acceptable inn your workplace.

Tips to cultivating positive employee experience

So you have a good idea of what employee experience is, why it is important to you and how to evaluate and understand your current employee experience. Hopefully, you feel energized to take action in addressing your employee experience, for your business value and for your employees. Here are some tips to assist you in starting to build a more positive employee experience:

Foster Psychological safety

Yes, it sounds complicated, but no it is not. Simply, psychological safety is merely about giving people the freedom to bring their whole selves to work while feeling valued, connected and accepted. To create increased psychological safety at work we need to approach others with positive regard, allow failures and successes, treat people with dignity and act inclusively. Our interactions, especially the leaders at work, need to down regulate fight or flight responses and allow people to be calm, energized and focused.

Communicate with your employees

An important part of employee experience is communication between the business, leaders and employees. Great communication starts with listening. Actively listen to your employees. You can create discussion boards, virtual collective spaces and even schedule team lunches that allow open communication. Really listen and try to understand what motivates and demotivates your employees, try put yourself in their shoes and understand their day-to-day lived experience. Storytelling is a great way to share ideas and communicate with employees. Host town halls or social media campaigns to keep them feeling connected.

Make people feel valued

Focus on fostering a culture of acknowledgement, people have a fundamental need to feel valued and this is true for the workplace. Recognize contributions to the team and company success in meaningful ways beyond monetary incentives. Create the habit of frequent feedback and make a point of letting people know you see them and their efforts.

Give employees’ growth opportunities

A big part of a positive work experience is feeling like you are growing and contributing to something bigger than yourself. Ensuring employees have routine learning and development opportunities gives them the chance to grow and progress. Growth can take the form of free access to Udemy courses or short courses, personalized development plans to one’s career aspirations or creating a learning culture in the organization with knowledge sharing and learning lunches. 

Work Life Integration and Balance

We all want to feel like we have a good work life balance, in essence we want a positive experience at work and at home. As work and life become more integrated it is really up to leaders and business’ to enhance employee work life balance and show employees they genuinely do care for their happiness. Small steps such as increased autonomy and flexibility at work can go a long way to making employees feel empowered and valued. Consider others schedules when booking meetings, perhaps try have stand up meetings instead of sitting in a board room. Be mindful of the emails your forward and who’s mailbox you are filling. And most importantly encourage employees to switch off and recharge, often. 

Integrate the desired experience into people practices

You can’t achieve the employee experience you want without ensuring all other initiatives in the business align. If you want to encourage feedback, make it a weekly habit in the team. If you want people to act inclusive, build it as a measure into your performance management system and include it in onboarding initiatives. Once you have identified the pillars you will use to build your employee experience make sure you integrate it into all the employee touch points to reinforce the change in behaviours and make it stick.

A word from Jessica Brownlee

Through the sharing of knowledge and experience, we want to help build communities, organizations and individuals become the most optimal version of themselves, both physically, emtionally and mentally.  

Your health is your wealth so make lasting changes, one habit at a time.

The WellBe Team


About Jessica Brownlee

Jessica is an industrial and organizational psychologist specializing in learning, leadership, talent, neuroscience and wellness. A self-proclaimed wellness geek, Jessica writes The Humble Humanologist blog to inspire, motivate and uplift others on their work and wellness journey. She is her own boss, running a consulting company, Psychology360 (www.psychology360.org) and consults globally to some of the leading organizations. Jessica also strives to find balance and is an avid yogi and yoga teacher (who is yet to master a hand stand).

Instagram: @thehumblehumanologist

Facebook: Psychology360

Website: www.psychology360.org

SETTING BOUNDARIES

DRAWING THE LINE: SETTING BOUNDARIES AT WORK FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

With burnout on the rise and boundaries becoming more blurred by the week, it’s time for a re-evaluation. Sure, hard work has always been something to be admired but at the end of the tired, overthinking mess of a day, what are we really glorifying here, openly speaking?
Technology has flipped the switch on work-life balance, giving colleagues constant access to you and tempting you to be always available. We don’t need physical offices to get our jobs done anymore, so the excuses for not being able to get something done in record time seem to wither. Imagine though, if excuses weren’t necessary and a certain, polite, “no, I don’t have time for that”, would suffice?

Have you ever been in a work environment where you’ve had to do the ‘appropriate leaving time’ walk of shame to your car? Or perhaps you’ve felt a surge of anxiety turning off the active status on your remote digital communication platform long after the sun has gone down. The grind. The hustle. The boss babe (is there a reason “boss” doesn’t work just as well?). We live in a whirlwind of buzzwords that remind us that success means zero downtime, toxic productivity and ultimately, a personal life so overrun by work that health, family and joy start to fall by the wayside.

Without sounding alarmist, something needs to change. Collectively, there needs to be an unpacking of how it came to be acceptable for our mental health to be compromised by what we do for a living.

Boundaries, who needs them?

You. You do. And so does everybody else.

Taking your mental health seriously is the first on the agenda. To a fair few people, mental health still seems like this figment of our imagination and we do wonder sometimes, does it really deserve the attention you need/want to give it?

It absolutely does. You’ll see that when you take your mental health seriously, you’ll know where boundaries fit in and why they are so valuable.

Setting, implementing and upholding your boundaries
Boundaries are established after you’ve done some deep digging on what you will and won’t allow from the people around you. You need them in all spheres of your life to maintain your limits. Boundaries could be letting your mother know she can’t Facetime you at her whim twice a day or that you won’t tolerate possessive behaviour from your partner.

When we speak about work boundaries, in particular, we are speaking about the prepared, quick-defence (but not defensive) systems you have in place for situations that bring on pushing past what you are willing to do for your work.

work

 

Firstly, figure it out

You can’t implement what you don’t know and you certainly can’t expect anybody to read your mind about what boundaries you have in place. Know what you value and where your time needs to be spent and where. If you value family and health and pottery, you’ll know that your boundaries need to protect these parts of your life.

Find out where you are being stretched thin and where your work is leaking into valuable time. Pinpoint what elements of your work-life that trigger anxiety or anger and have a solid understanding of what needs to change.

Say what you mean and mean what you say

Once you’ve figured out what your boundaries are, they need to be communicated. This doesn’t mean mumbling to your colleagues about your boss during your lunch break (which was cut short by a meeting that went on for too long). It means respectfully letting your work peers know what a) you’re comfortable with, b) why these boundaries are important and c) what the outcome of broken boundaries will be. Damn.

If workplace dynamics interest you, check out our thoughts on how to bring wellness into the workplace: 5 easy, effective ways to boost productivity & employee happiness

What can work boundaries sound like?

In case you need some inspiration on how to say what you need to say (with conviction) here’s how stating your boundaries may sound:

“Yes, I also think being on top of work emails is important and they will always be answered by 10 am Monday. On the weekends, however, I prioritise unplugging and won’t be available.”

“This is not something I want to talk about at work, if we could avoid bringing it up again I would appreciate it.”

“I have a hard stop on meetings that run over 5:30 on Wednesdays and Fridays, so if we could start with the essentials that would be great.”

Emotional responses vs steadfast explanations

Saying those sentences out loud might sound abrupt at first if you are somebody who has been conditioned to people please or in the case of many minorities in the workplace, pressured to be polite and amiable. Boundaries are not rude or catty or self-righteous, they are healthy and logical limits to protect yourself. Abruptness is not a bad thing, it just means that we have taken time to evaluate and cement where our values and comfort zones are – so we don’t need to waste 1000 words explaining ourselves. When we become emotional stating our boundaries we risk being defensive or overexplaining something that needs little explanation.

Somebody is going to push a boundary, expect that to happen. When it does, you will have unpacked and prepared for how to deal with that situation and you’re going to feel better for it. Mastering your emotional awareness and sense of clarity is something you can build into your daily routine (we unpack that in our blog here).

Boundaries are Self-Care

We’re going to be talking a lot about self-love for the next few weeks and best believe mental health is high up on the agenda.

This February, let’s dig a little deeper than sugar and synthetic teddies for Valentines Day. Let’s look into real self-love that lets you think well and work well. For each time you say “no” to something that doesn’t align with your values, you learn to trust yourself a little more. Living your life in line with what makes you happy and letting go of expectations and worries about the behaviour of people is one heck of a way to love yourself. Join in on the love and come check out our Instagram page to keep up to date with our conversations about life, love, wellness and food (heck yes).