As we move into 2022, there’s a great deal of uncertainty about what the next year will bring. We’re all continuing to feel the impact of COVID-19, companies are grappling with whether or not to reopen their offices, and the Great Resignation is affecting managers and workers alike.
In fact, a new study from Oracle NetSuite found that executives and managers are feeling the effects of burnout even more so than their employees, and they’re also more likely to quit. Of course, some of the factors contributing to burnout may be outside of your control, even if you’re in a leadership role. But there are ways you can take charge of your well-being and begin to make progress in a better direction.
Not only will this benefit you, but it will also help your team members prioritize their well-being. That’s because whether or not you recognize this, your employees look to you as a role model and an example. So by focusing on your own well-being in 2022, you’ll also be helping to chart a better course for your people.
Here are 5 resolutions I think every business leader should make for 2022, along with tips to make it easier for you to achieve these goals. If you find these ideas helpful, I highly suggest you take my LinkedIn Learning Course: Managing Your Well-Being as a Leader. With 15 videos across 6 chapters, it has all the inspiration, advice, and real-world examples you’ll need to get started on your journey to better well-being.
Resolution #1: Set SMART well-being goals
It goes without saying that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. While most leaders are adept at creating SMART business goals, it’s helpful to use this same principle for your well-being. Start by identifying what you want to improve (e.g., your physical health), then hone in on how you’ll get there (through diet, exercise, etc.). Next, create SMART goals for each of these areas. For example, you could commit to take 2 exercise classes a week or cook healthy meals 3 nights per week.
Keep track of how you’re doing, and be sure to check-in with yourself regularly and reflect on whether any adjustments should be made. It’s a good idea to start small — remember, the “A” in SMART stands for “Attainable” — and then add additional activities as you get used to your new routine. And if things aren’t going well, think about what you could do to make more progress. For example, if going to the gym is proving to be unrealistic, try taking virtual classes instead.
Resolution #2: Create a wellness routine
Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, it’s important to put routines in place that support your well-being. For example, one business owner I talked to uses the first 20-30 minutes of his day to meditate, stretch, listen to music, and eat a healthy breakfast. Other leaders have told me that it’s important for them to exercise first thing in the morning.
In the evening, focus on habits that will help you relax. This is critical because if you don’t decompress at the end of the day, it could trigger a constant stress response that could lead to sleep issues, headaches, and even high blood pressure and digestive issues. As a first step, you’ll need to disconnect from work at a reasonable hour — easier said than done, I know! Then, prioritize activities that matter to you, like spending time with family and friends, reading, writing in a journal, or just relaxing.
Resolution #3: Seek out support
If you’re like many business leaders, you may be struggling with isolation, stress, or anxiety. It’s easy to feel like you have to shoulder this burden by yourself, but you don’t have to go it alone. In fact, joining a peer support group is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your well-being. You’ll get different perspectives on common leadership challenges, and you’ll learn about best practices, tools, and resources.
And don’t forget that your own team members can be a source of support as well. As a leader, I know it can be hard to be vulnerable with your employees and your peers. But if you open up, you might be surprised at how much people care about you and want to support you. And you’ll also have the opportunity to share your own wisdom and experience with others — it’s the gift that gives right back.
Resolution #4: Use your calendar to your advantage
I think most business leaders would agree that they “live and die” by their calendars. However, too often they’re using their calendar for work only, when it can also be a critical piece of their well-being puzzle. In fact, when I’ve spoken with leaders who have high level of well-being, they’re almost always using their calendars to block off time for family, self-care, breaks, and social activities.
They’re also very deliberate about when they schedule certain work tasks, to ensure they make the best use of their day and have plenty of time leftover for non-work activities . For example, one leader I talked to said he is most dialed-in as a writer early in the day. So he’ll often schedule time in the morning to write, and he’ll save meetings and administrative work for the afternoon. It’s a smart tactic that we all could apply in our own lives.
Resolution #5: Set boundaries for yourself
Leaders can feel compelled to do whatever is needed to manage their employees, including being available at all times of the day. As difficult as it may be, you need to lead by example and set boundaries for yourself. This means starting and ending your workday at a reasonable hour, staying offline during breaks, and not checking emails on weekends or on your days off. You should also communicate that you expect your team members to do the same.
Learning how to say “no” is another way to create boundaries, but it’s a skill that many leaders struggle with. Perhaps you committed to a networking group, but you’ve found that it’s not adding much value — then let it go. Or maybe someone asked you to handle a task for them as a favor — can you delegate it, or politely decline to handle it? Remember, you don’t have to be everything and do everything.
I hope you've enjoyed this week's article. Want more ideas and tips to improve your well-being? Sign-up for my LinkedIn Learning Course, Managing Your Well-Being as a Leader, for an in-depth guide to getting started on your wellness journey.