Well-being is having a moment. What was once considered a soft-news lifestyle topic has, thanks to our collective experience of the pandemic, moved to the center of the conversation about work and life. And as a Chief Well-Being Officer, I’m certainly glad to see this shift (even if I obviously would have preferred a different catalyst). 

Still, when I’m asked questions about well-being, as I often am, I’ve noticed a troubling trend. Very often, well-being becomes just another stress-inducing item on our to-do list. So as we continue to prioritize our well-being, we also need to shift our mindset away from viewing well-being as work. Because well-being isn’t a benchmark we need to hit. It’s not another guilt-inducing metric to measure ourselves by. The whole point of bringing more well-being into our lives is to lower our stress, not add to it. 

With that in mind, here are six ways to prevent well-being from becoming just another item on our to-do lists.

Stop glorifying busyness

We often have this idea that busyness and productivity are the same thing. We wear our busyness as a badge of honor, believing that we should exist in a state of perpetual motion. For many of us, this extends to well-being, which becomes something we must do — that is, just another form of being busy. But well-being isn’t a moment, it’s a mindset — and one that’s an antidote to the mindset of busyness. Well-being is a way of living and working that can only happen when we leave busyness behind.

Define well-being for yourself

If well-being begins to feel like a checklist of things you’re supposed to do, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re subscribing to an idea of well-being that’s been defined by someone else. But well-being isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s different for every person, so it’s essential that we define it for ourselves. 

That starts with thinking of what’s important to us and defining our non-negotiables. Some people like to meditate, some don’t. For some, well-being might involve an activity. For others, it can just as easily be about doing nothing. When we focus on what truly makes us thrive, it will be a lot easier to integrate our specific version of well-being into the fabric of our daily lives.  

Start small

Prioritizing well-being isn’t about overhauling our lives, and it doesn’t mean we have to make huge changes. It’s not all-or-nothing. Thrive Global is all about Microsteps — starting with the smallest steps possible to build healthy habits. Maybe you don’t have time to work out for an hour a day, but can you get a few more minutes of movement in? You don’t have to cut out gluten or meat or foods you like, but can you add a piece of fruit as a snack? When we make these steps small enough, they become easier to make into habits.  

Be intentional about setting boundaries 

Having a set of well-being non-negotiables doesn’t do much good if we don’t make time for them. To make sure I make time for mine, I add them to my public calendar, which all of my co-workers and team members can see, and then I stick to them in the same way I do everything else on my calendar. This sends the message — both to myself and others — that the ways I’m nurturing my well-being are as important as any other meetings or appointments on my calendar.

Accept that well-being will change 

If we’ve learned anything over the past year-and-a-half, it’s that life is about constant change. Well-being isn’t a destination. As we move forward on our life’s journey, our conception of well-being is likely to change. When we accept that, we’ll be able to continue finding new ways to bring well-being, joy, and renewal into our lives that don’t feel forced.

Give yourself some grace 

We’re all human, which means we’re perfectly imperfect. The last thing our relationship with well-being should be giving us is guilt or a sense of failure. What’s more, self-acceptance — in this case, accepting the fact that we’re not always going to meet our own definition of well-being or find the time for it — is itself a great well-being practice. So let yourself off the hook, give yourself some grace, and when you do, you’ll be adding a powerful tool of well-being to your life. 

See you next month, when we’ll have an exciting announcement to make about the Deloitte Life-Work hub. 

Author(s)

  • Jen Fisher

    Chief Well-being Officer at Deloitte and Editor-at-Large, Life-Work Integration at Thrive Global

    Jen Fisher is a leading voice on workplace well-being and creating human-centered organizational cultures. She frequently speaks and writes about building a culture of well-being at work and serves as Deloitte’s chief well-being officer in the United States, where she drives the strategy and innovation around work-life, health, and wellness. Jen is also the host of WorkWell, a podcast series on the latest work-life trends and author of the book, Work Better Together: How to Cultivate Strong Relationships to Maximize Well-Being and Boost Bottom Lines (McGraw-Hill, June 2021). Jen is a healthy lifestyle enthusiast and seeks to infuse aspects of wellness in everything she does. She believes self-care is a daily pursuit and considers herself an exercise fanatic, sleep advocate, and book nerd! As a breast cancer survivor, she is passionate about advocating for women’s health and sharing her recovery journey. Jen lives in Miami with her husband, Albert and dog, Fiona.

    Follow her on LinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.