Wellness = Performance — Part 1: The State of Work

For decades now, our approach to work has ignored the direct correlation between wellness and performance. In this series of articles, we’ll explore different areas of work wellness, and how improving these areas will have a direct impact on your ability to achieve your goals. 

Part 1: The State of Work

We’re moving towards remote, flexible arrangements which promise a more human-centric approach to where, how, and when we do our work. This is an exciting time full of promise for the future of work. Still, the reality for most of us living the future of work today is the opposite of human-centric. Instead, our work rhythms have become increasingly tech-centric. 

Our Tech-Centred Approach

We’ve adjusted our natural human rhythms to match those of machines rather than the other way around. We’ve allowed the boundaries between our work and the rest of our lives to be completely stripped away.

We’re more isolated than ever as much of our communication now happens in faceless chat streams and transactional emails. This is as much a result of our individual choices and habits as it is the expectations of the companies that we work for.

We have collectively adopted this pace of work but have individually allowed it to happen by not knowing how to set boundaries for ourselves or develop healthy habits. A lack of awareness and mindfulness around our work habits has led to a completely unsustainable approach that is making us exhausted and sick and is driving down the quality of our life.  

We’re now connected to our work 24/7 and, whether it’s by our own doing or the expectations of our employers, we feel at least some obligation to be available and responsive from the moment we wake up to the final minutes before sleep.

If you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner, the line between work and life can be even more difficult to define. You’ve invested everything in your venture and are deeply passionate about it. So why wouldn’t you live and breathe it every moment of every day?

It’s critical to recognize the difference between being passionate about your work and being completely consumed by it. When you’re passionate about it, you’re energized, clear-minded, and “in choice” about how you interact with your work each day. When you’re consumed by it, your work controls you. Your time and mental space feel tight and you constantly feel rushed. You give up time with your friends and family because you feel anxiety about what you could be doing otherwise. When you’re consumed by it, you don’t take the time to stop and consider why you’re doing what you’re doing and how it affects you and those around you.

Can you see the difference? 

I have always been a firm believer that finding meaning and purpose in work. Being a life-long learner and working hard is the definition of a life well-lived. There’s a growing amount of science that backs up this belief [1][2]. However, in today’s digital and hyper-connected world, it’s easy to take the idea of hard work too far. To confuse busyness with happiness or success. To live beyond our mental and physical boundaries, overworking ourselves, and losing the plot along the way.

We become so consumed by our work that we forget to enjoy ourselves! We forget that, at the end of the day, it’s how we feel when we have a moment to ourselves and it’s the energy we have for our loved ones that truly matters. 

What’s the point of achieving financial or material success if we’re too tired, overwhelmed, and stressed out to enjoy it? 

Finding Balance

Beyond these existential questions about what it means to live a good life, when you take a more balanced approach to work and life, you increase your performance and accelerate your progress. By learning to work with the natural rhythms of our brains and bodies and by building discipline around how we spend our time, attention, and energy, we can increase productivity, the quality and depth of our thinking, and our personal well-being, all at the same time.

By learning to be grounded in the present moment, we can access our full capacity to affect change in our lives. By learning to focus our attention intently on what’s most important to us, we grow those areas of our lives. 

When we’re balanced and well, we are better equipped to support and inspire others to find balance and wellness in their lives. We build resilience for ourselves so that when we or our loved ones encounter a challenge, we have the mental and emotional bandwidth to take it on successfully. This becomes a virtuous ripple that travels outwards into the world. By becoming more mindful yourself, you increase your capacity to affect your colleagues, friends, and family. 

So how do we achieve better balance and wellness in our work routines?

This is a complex question to answer, and there are many areas to explore. Over the next few weeks, this article series will explore various ways that you can immediately begin to improve your work wellness, achieve more, and set yourself up for long-term success. 

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[1] Kim, E. S. (2017, October 1). Association Between Purpose in Life and Objective Measures of Physical Function. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2648692

[2] Schaefer, S. M., Morozink Boylan, J., van Reekum, C. M., Lapate, R. C., Norris, C. J., Ryff, C. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2013, November 13). Purpose in life predicts better emotional recovery from negative stimuli. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827458

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