September marks the time when we all gear up for what I often think of as the “back stretch” of the year. Summer melts away like ice cream on a hot boardwalk as we redouble our efforts to have a successful year in business. In theory, Labor Day should find us refreshed and recharged. Yet, in over 17 years of executive coaching, I have never seen such a degree of overwhelm, stress, and exhaustion in the workplace. I’m hearing tales of truncated or postponed vacations. Many employees (and business owners) are grappling with mind-boggling workloads. The avalanche of information we are exposed to is frightening and addictive. Often time away from the office is spent furtively answering emails at all hours of the night, electronically tethered to work. These are not just situations and behaviors I observe in others; I struggle with the same issues.
I admire the commitment in dedicated, hard-working professionals who strive for excellence in their work. Success does not come without a price. Yet I wonder if we are paying too high a price. I worry that we can become inured to the escalating costs success can demand. As daunting as it may seem, I believe that it is possible to reclaim your life, or at least reframe your view of work, without losing your job (or your edge).
The purpose of this missive is not to hand out tips and techniques on time management or setting priorities. It is just to ask you to take some time this holiday weekend to step back and reflect on your labors. What in your work brings you fulfillment and satisfaction? What kind of energy do you run on: positive, sustainable energy or negative, draining energy? How well do you set boundaries? Who (or what) comes first in your life? What does your gut tell you is moving your career forward in a sustainable manner? What feels right, worthwhile, and rewarding (even if difficult or risky)?
I plan to spend time this weekend pondering these questions. My desire is to always be course-correcting so that I can be my best self, and engage in the practices I encourage many of you to incorporate. If you want to discuss any of these questions, please call. Just not on the weekend.
Sharon Keys Seal