It goes without saying that this has been a stressful year for everybody. We all have our unique challenges, and we all react to stress differently — but we can all benefit from strategies that make it easier to prioritize our well-being. My job title at Deloitte is Chief Well-being Officer, and I have to admit, it’s a pretty great role! But the role that’s even more important is being the Chief Well-being Officer of my own life! And I think everyone needs to take on this same leadership role when it comes to their own lives.
So what is well-being? For me, it means taking a holistic approach, focusing on body, mind, purpose, and financial health. The truth is, although we generally know what we should be doing to take care of ourselves, we often don’t do it. And that’s because we’re not strategic; we’re not intentional about it. But the problem is that with the pace of our modern lives, day after day gets away from us and we fall to the bottom of our priority list. Our tendency as human beings is to take care of everything and everyone else before taking care of ourselves.
And when we allow that to happen, we can pay a heavy price. Daily stress can become chronic stress, and before you know it, that can lead to burnout. But your path to realizing you need to nurture your own well-being doesn’t have to involve burning out first. The key is to create a mindful and intentional system for being in charge of your well-being. Here are six lessons I’ve learned that will help you be successful as the Chief Well-being Officer of your own life.
The first thing to realize is that your well-being has to start with you. You can’t wait for others to take care of it for you. As they say, secure your own oxygen mask first. And just like any executive has to set priorities for his or her department or organization, you have to set priorities for yourself. And you need to be on the top of your priority list.
Next, realize that well-being means something different for everybody. There are many definitions of well-being. So what’s important to you? What do you want to work on? What do you enjoy? What are your non-negotiables? Think about it. Write it down. Setting priorities for yourself helps you own your own self-care.
As a Chief Well-being Officer, you need a team. Well-being can’t just be an individual effort; it needs to be embedded in your team and how you work together. I encourage my team to set and share goals with each other. Everybody’s goals are going to be different, and that’s OK. If one of my co-workers needs to leave at 2 p.m. to pick up her children, I can support her in that because I know that’s a priority for her, and she can support me because she knows I need to exercise at 10 a.m. By collectively stating our goals, even though they’re different, we can support and hold each other accountable.
The number one comment I get about well-being is, “I don’t have time to take care of myself.” Well, you have to make time. And the way to do that is the same way you make time for other things in your life: Schedule it. Use your calendar and your technology to schedule time for self-care like your most important meeting, and stick to it. And then guard that “me time” from other things and other people.
Allow for failure
Being the Chief Well-being Officer doesn’t mean you get everything perfect all the time (believe me, I know I don’t). It doesn’t mean you won’t feel fatigued, or that you won’t eat a less-than-nutritious meal, or stay up late one night bingeing your favorite show instead of prioritizing a good night’s sleep. Prioritizing your well-being sometimes looks like taking two steps forward and one step back, then another step forward — and that’s OK. Just think about how you can learn from each experience, and then move on.
Revisit your well-being goals regularly
Businesses revisit their strategies on a regular basis as the market changes. And the same principle applies in our own lives. By regularly checking in and revisiting our well-being strategies, we can change course if we need to. So ask yourself, what’s working, what’s not working? Have your well-being goals changed? Are they still aligned with what you value in life? Then celebrate the successes and figure out what needs to be adapted moving forward.
Find joy and give thanks
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my job and in my own life is the value of finding joy every day. We don’t want to become so scheduled that we don’t have time and space for things that give us joy. Also, bring the power of gratitude into your life. Expressing gratitude for those who support you, or even just giving thanks for the small blessings in your life will lower your stress, improve your well-being, and make you more joyful.
Your duties as the Chief Well-being Officer in your life will be unique to you. But it’s important to take charge of it. And once you make your own well-being a priority, you’ll be able to inspire and encourage others to do the same.