Earlier in the summer, we were all hopeful that the pandemic would recede into the background and we would be able to return to some semblance of normal life. Yet, as the COVID-19 Delta variant puts the focus back on prevention, we too are reminded not to lose sight of the need for a continued focus on health and well-being.
When I watched as Simone Biles withdrew from her Olympic competitions, I took a vital lesson to heart. Even the strongest of us need time to recover, to rest and recharge. So, as we close out the summer months and the temptation to pick up the pace calls, I am consciously pausing and reminding myself to take note of the lessons I have learned. As Simone said, “We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day, we’re human, too. We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”
Too often we feel we have to “give it our all” at the expense of our well-being. We’re eager to prove ourselves and show our teams we’re capable and reliable. This became especially true as many people moved to a virtual work environment for the first time and the lines between work and home blurred. For many, the early uncertainty of the pandemic also led to longer days and less time off. With the changing nature of work, it can feel as though this level of exhaustive determination is now just part of the job. If asked how work is going, we say we’re, “giving 110%,” “firing on all cylinders,” and “burning the candle at both ends.” But if we really look at these phrases and consider what they mean, we realize keeping this pace means there will likely be nothing left of us to give — not to work or to any other aspect of life. We end up exhausted, depleted, and burned out — a feeling that is all too familiar for many people.
In acknowledgment of how hard our people worked during an exceptionally challenging year, Deloitte has taken many measures to address employee well-being. One example includes adding an extra holiday to allow for a five-day disconnect over the fourth of July weekend — a move that recognized the importance of collective time away from work to truly unplug and be present with family and friends. Additionally, among our many well-being resources, we work with Corporate Athlete® to offer courses on fatigue, eating, sleeping, and other forms of care and recovery because we understand that in order for an organization to operate at its best, the workforce must also be at their best.
Well-being should be a priority in our personal and professional lives if we are to thrive in mind, body, and purpose. Growth requires us to add value, find opportunities, and bring new insights, but rest is required for accessing these skills. We should make time for our physical, emotional, and financial well-being, set boundaries, and listen to warning signs instead of ignoring them — tasks we mistakenly think will take away from our focus at work and in life. However, when we carve out this time, we find we have more to give to work and everyone around us. In one of her recent “WorkWell” podcasts, Jen Fisher, Deloitte’s Chief Well-being officer, explains that we all pride ourselves on having a great work ethic. But we’re missing a “rest ethic.” “Having a strong work ethic — without a correspondingly strong rest ethic that we take every bit as seriously — is what’s burning us out. We should see time off as an investment into productivity, and into creativity.”
Earlier this month, I took a long-overdue respite in Sonoma with my family. We went hiking, biking and enjoyed being in the fresh air. It was wonderful! And even though the sun was glaringly hot, and the hills we climbed and biked were steeper than expected, I was incredibly rejuvenated by this little escape into nature with my favorite people. The change of scenery and dedicated time away were much needed.
It’s so important to commit to recharging our internal batteries regularly. In doing so, we find our reservoir of energy replenished instead of drained and we’re able to bring more passion to all that we do. Yes, our daily demands are calling but we’ll never achieve the growth we are seeking by simply “powering through” them. Instead, we should make real time to unplug and reset. So, while my work calendar fills up with engagements, client meetings, and travel (for now), I’m also finding time to enjoy what’s left of our warm summer days — because the time spent on our own rest and recovery is just as important for our collective growth and success.
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