Everyday resolutions for a happier,
Incredibly, it’s already March in the year 2021! This is a year we hoped would be different but so far has brought continued challenges for us all as the pandemic continues to bite.
By now, many of the personal resolutions we might have made as the New Year began will have fallen by the wayside, because the truth is that it takes time and commitment to make and stick to positive changes and form new habits.
In my last blog I shared my ideas about the importance of creating a culture of ‘psychological safety’ within teams, so that each individual can feel the support and freedom to try things, succeed and sometimes fail but always grow in their professional outlook.
But it’s not just psychological safety that helps to denote a high performing team culture.
I am a big proponent of the importance of working on your personal wellbeing in order to bring a better version of yourself to work. This isn’t just to deliver better professional outcomes on the projects you contribute to. Neither is it just about being a better leader or colleague within your team. It’s also about learning to cope with every-day work pressures that we all experience, pressures that have become an awful lot worse for many of us through the adversity of Covid. Times of challenge can bring about amazing personal growth, but only if you can balance the pressure with the opportunity.
So as a leader of change here at HighPoint UK, I spend a lot of time thinking about helping my people to address this crucial imperative.
The first thing we talk about is learning to put your own oxygen mask on first. Self-care is not a new idea in business and management thinking, but you’re unlikely to find me rising at 5am to do Peloton sessions or hitting the pavements to run 10k, as beneficial as those things might be to those that choose to do them. For me, self-care is about deciding on some small steps that might lead to significant impact over time.
For example, in January 2020, I formed a team to participate in ‘Red January’, a campaign run by the mental health charity, Mind. This encourages participants to do something active every day for a month, and I chose to start walking, little and often.
After successfully doing this without fail for a month it become a habit and the core to my own wellbeing routine. I started to love being outdoors in nature and crave the feeling. It felt like a real breakthrough to reach the end of the month wanting to continue rather than ‘falling off the wagon’ as I usually might have done. This allowed me to continue my daily walks and build up to some much bigger challenges in 2020. These included walking a 55km ultra-marathon which was pretty gruelling but also amazing to complete.
Because I learned to enjoy walking so much last year, I signed up to do Red January once again this year, but with bigger ambitions. I decided to complete daily walks of 3-4 miles whatever the weather. This may sound easy but it required real commitment, particularly whilst juggling work alongside home-schooling the kids! It was only possible to complete due to the habit formed doing those daily walks last year, and now I’m underway with a new challenge – walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats – virtually of course! If you are interested in my hiking tales and progress on the LEJOG Challenge checkout my personal blog on Instagram – @tommy_cool_hikes
Today I encourage my colleagues to find their own ‘small thing’ that they can do to look after their own wellbeing. Of course, walking isn’t for everyone so it could be cooking and eating fresh food, a few minutes of yoga or mindfulness after lunch, drinking more water or even getting up and stretching after every meeting. It’s never too late to make a personal commitment to make some tiny changes. The important thing is making it stick.
Supporting and serving others is the other critical component to help them on their wellbeing journey. As a leader, helping those we’re responsible for can be key to fixing problems and inspiring change – and it feels good too. In my work this takes two forms. Firstly, I address wellbeing topics in honest 121 conversations. Secondly, I encourage open conversations about positive habits and how they make us feel during broader team sessions. Doing this seems to foster an attitude of positivity and personal responsibility across the complex delivery team that I lead, and is one way that we prevent people suffering burn-out or ‘overwhelm’. All of this translates into happier individuals, but also better outcomes from the team in a professional setting, with our clients benefitting from a commitment to consistent positive improvements and performance over the lifecycle of a project.
Taking control of our own destiny personally and professionally feels good, even if (especially if) things aren’t going so well. It equips you with the confidence to keep moving forward. If there’s one good thing to come out of the Covid pandemic, it’s the open way in which more of us are discussing the critical importance of mental health and wellbeing in all facets of life. This visibility encourages positive daily habits to emerge like green shoots of growth. It may be as simple as opening the blinds (and windows!) in your office on a sunny day and moving your house plants on to the windowsill. Even tiny things like this can raise the serotonin levels and shift your mindset to something more positive.
As we near the end of lockdown, it’s not too late to reflect honestly on where you’re at and set some new intentions or personal objectives. For me there is no better time than early spring to make renewed commitments to personal goals.
If my last blog was about helping team members to feel safer, this one is about helping them to feel happier in themselves and in their work – all of which are incredibly important to us all at HighPoint.
By Tom Coulbeck, Global Programme Director, HighPoint