By Barb Ward

If you are like most, you are constantly running toward the “finish line”, the deadline for an important project, the elusive, coveted promotion, purchasing the house, the graduation of a child, endless housekeeping tasks… the list goes on and on. But what happens when the finish line moves? Or worse yet, you can’t find it. Often in our lives, we have these lofty goals, things we dreamt of as children, and we can’t let go. We work tirelessly to achieve, be successful, move on in our careers, and reach that next goal. And, in the next moment, we are hoping and waiting for things to slow down so we can catch our breath. 

Whether a leader or a team member, the pressure of competition – either self-imposed or real – to continue achieving at higher and higher levels can be exhausting. As leaders, we owe it to ourselves to take this time for pause, and we owe it to our teams to encourage time for reflection as well. In all the “noise” of uncertainty and change that surrounds our roles, we can forget that the employees are the center of any organization’s success. The bottom line, our well-being and the well-being of our teams provide the fuel to help both employees and the organization thrive.   

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. Yes, setting goals and working towards achievements are important, they are the benchmarks for our futures, after all. But sometimes our plans become too rigid and too all-encompassing. It is equally important to take a step back, slow down, and enjoy the now!

Oddly, this is exactly what happened when Covid hit. People were forced to stop. During this time many of us took time to think and reflect—something that we never felt we had the opportunity to do in our busy schedules. Many people took this time to reevaluate what was important to them, if they were being true to their values, and to determine what path they wanted to take forward. This is precisely why The Great Resignation happened.

We’ve long since determined that the proverbial “finish line” does not exist. Life, environments, and society will always be in a state of change. To some of us not knowing what is coming next and the confusion that can occur is unsettling, but for all of us, if we can take a moment to be still and be present in the current moment, we give ourselves the gift of quiet and reflection that can renew our energy and allow us to enjoy the present moment.

Now that the pandemic has passed, and our work lives are back to their usual fast pace, do we still take time to slow down? If we’re being honest, the answer is likely “no”. So, how do we create a strategy for ourselves and our teams that supports finding time for that pause? How do we encourage our team members to do the same? 

So, first, we need to remember that only focusing on the finish line can thwart our best intentions and that sometimes slowing down is crucial for both us and our teams if we are to continue being productive, creative, and engaged, and to maintain our well-being. And this all starts with a culture that champions our employees’ well-being. Here are some steps leaders can take to get started:

  • Lead by Example: Demonstrate a balanced approach to work by taking breaks, setting boundaries, and prioritizing your own well-being.
  • Foster Open Communication: Create a safe environment where team members feel comfortable communicating their workload, challenges, and concerns. Open communication can lead to collaborative problem-solving and a more supportive work atmosphere.
  • Provide Stress Management Training: Offer workshops or resources on stress management, mindfulness, and resilience. Equip your team with strategies to cope with stress in a healthy way.
  • Encourage Breaks and Downtime: Remind team members to take breaks and encourage a culture where it’s acceptable to step away from work momentarily. This can enhance focus and prevent burnout.
  • Implement Flexible Schedules: Consider allowing flexible work schedules or remote work options. This can provide team members with a sense of control over their work environment, reducing stress and distractions.
  • Acknowledge and Celebrate Achievements: Recognize and celebrate accomplishments. This fosters a positive work culture and motivates team members to stay focused on their goals.
  • Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Respect personal time and avoid expecting constant availability.
  • Provide Resources for Skill Development: Support team members in developing time management, organization, and prioritization skills. This can empower them to work more efficiently.
  • Regularly Assess Workloads: Check in with team members to assess their workloads. If someone consistently feels overloaded, redistribute tasks or provide additional support if possible.
  • Create a Positive Work Environment: Cultivate a positive and supportive workplace culture. This can contribute to a sense of belonging and reduce stressors that impede focus.
  • Offer Flexibility During High-Pressure Periods: During particularly busy times, be flexible with deadlines when possible and provide additional support to help manage the workload effectively.

Sometimes it can still be difficult to separate “what’s truly important” from “what I think needs to be done”. For leaders, an executive coach can provide an impartial perspective to help you clarify the direction you want to go moving forward. For teams, professional coaching can help develop relationships, trust, direction, and collaboration to help you develop a high performing team that is not only easier to manage, but is also more productive and engaged. It might sound like it will take more time than you have, but investing in this process will ensure that no matter if the finish line moves, you will reach it, and you will have made time for yourself and your teams to enjoy the now along the way.

Want to learn more? Let’s talk. We take pride in matching coaches and coachees based on specific skill sets, needs, and personalities to make the partnership successful. Contact us for a no-obligation, free consultation by clicking this link: Innovative Connections or calling us at 970-279-3330.

Our mission is to give voice and action to an emerging future. As a partner in your success, we would love to help you find your voice, see your vision, and imagine what the right action could be for you, your team, and your organization.