It’s a new year, and if you are like most people, you’ve come up with some resolutions. I will lose 20 pounds, read all of the classics and be a perfect leader. It’s no wonder that most resolutions sputter by the first of February. We set completely unrealistic goals, with no view to potential obstacles. It may be enthusiasm that sets the stage, but it’s also the fact that we can be pretty self-critical, expecting that we should be able to achieve the unachievable.
Perfectionism, in the extreme, can predict mental illness, according to an APA Monitor article. For others, while perfection isn’t taken to the extreme, it can still lead to undue stress and anxiety. Instead of adopting resolutions that are doomed to fail, try some of these:
Do your worst. This British saying will help you to stay balanced. Essentially, it means that even if you make a mistake or don’t do your best, it isn’t the end of the world. If you only exercise twice this week, it will not derail your healthy lifestyle, unless you let it. It debunks our internal message, which is, Hey, I ate three cookies. I’ve blown it. I might as well eat the whole bag.
Take some time. Working every minute of the day is actually bad for productivity. Go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee or even take a power nap, and you’ll get more done in less time. If that isn’t enough incentive, research has shown that you’ll look and feel better too. People who take breaks have healthier skin, fewer problems with weight gain and sunnier outlooks.
Sleep. The old thinking was that in order to be a great leader (or great anything), you needed to work more and sleep less. Wrong. Too little sleep makes you more likely to become infected when exposed to viruses. Chronic sleep deprivation has been associated with weight gain, moodiness, loss of productivity, heart disease and diabetes. People who sleep more than 9 hours a night appear to have many of the same physical and mental risks as those who sleep too little. So aim for the sweet spot of 7 to 8 hours a night.
Giving up on perfection, taking breaks and sleeping more may seem counter-intuitive. Aren’t we supposed to be driving hard and seeking excellence 24/7? Nope. What leaders are supposed to be doing is what works. Why not start now? Step away from your desk and take a walk – a boost to your quality of life and your performance.
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