Today’s professional landscape is more distributed and isolated than before the pandemic — if we didn’t know that already, we can feel it. But what can we do to connect with those around us and ensure our own career success?
I’ve developed my own practice of daily habits that help me remain balanced in an unbalanced world. I’d like to share those with you today and give some examples and guidance as to how you can put them into practice starting ... now.
5 Daily Habits to Promote Work-Life Balance
- Be encouraging and express gratitude.
- Talk with a stranger. Make a new friend.
- Say “I love you” (a lot).
- Exercise and break a sweat.
- Reflect, take notes and plan for the future.
1. Be Encouraging and Express Gratitude
Be. Kind. To. People. I’ve made this a practice for years. Reach out to folks you don’t work with directly and acknowledge the work they do; give them positive feedback. I make it a point to contact people at the companies I work with and let them know I appreciate the work they’re doing. For example, I typically play a fractional CMO role for companies, and I’ve made it a routine to hit up the junior folks who support the marketing and sales teams I work with and let them know what badasses they are (we’re all unicorns as far as I’m concerned). As an added bonus, I’ve enjoyed a few instances where those once-junior marketers mature into managers, directors or VPs and hit me up to collaborate. I also make sure to express gratitude to peers, managers and customers.
If you want more examples on how being encouraging and expressing gratitude can help you in business, I recommend this book I received as a gift when I graduated from Boston University: The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness.
Be nice? Really? It can’t be that simple? Actually, yes it is.
2. Talk With a Stranger. Make a New Friend.
This one may sound corny but it’s one of my favorite things. It’s also how I’ve built an incredible network of friends and collaborators. I don’t talk to strangers simply for business benefits. I truly derive happiness from engaging with new people. If you’ve embraced the work from home life and you’re not in a position for an IRL exchange with a stranger each day, no worries. I’ve made incredible friends on social media. On Twitter, I look for people discussing topics I’m interested in and engage with them. In fact, one buddy I met on Twitter ended up at my wedding years later dancing with Grammy Servideo the entire night.
3. Say ‘I Love You’ (a Lot)
This one doesn’t register as much as business advice, although:
- This practice helps me remain centered and thrive in business
- It just so happens I adore the people I work with and I tell them I love them.
That’s me. Whether you have those types of work relationships or not, or that’s just awkward for you to say to a coworker (I can see that!), you have people in your life you love. I make sure I tell my wife and daughter I love them several times every day. I also do regular check-ins with friends and family and let them know I love them.
If you don’t think you can tell your colleagues you love them, show them that you care by inquiring about their families, bringing them a treat or asking how you can help with a stressful project. When you stay connected with the people you love and you reaffirm your feelings for them you feel invincible. I sure do. That invincibility reduces stress and manifests as confidence to help you tackle the professional challenges you face daily.
4. Exercise and Break a Sweat
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do hard core exercise every day. That said, I know I’m less happy and more irritable when I don’t work out. Some days that means a four mile run and other days it’s a high intensity Peloton workout. On days where I need to let my body recover a bit, I go for a nice walk at a brisk pace. In fact, the pandemic was driving me crazy because I’m a social butterfly and like to get out, so I started walking a lot and I’ve found it to be both good exercise and rejuvenating for my brain at the same time.
I’m a firm believer that when you exercise consistently, you're destined for success. I explore this further in my piece about how training for an Ironman gave me the strength to start my own business.
5. Reflect, Take Notes and Plan for the Future
This is a huge one for me and I talk more about it in a previous article about work-from-home wellness. The purpose is twofold:
- Personal: Recap and honor my personal blessings as a husband and father
- Professional: Reflect on my professional development in order to hold myself accountable to mistakes and challenge myself to improve
On the personal side, I take traditional handwritten notes in a family journal I keep. I began this ritual when my daughter was nine months old and we drove cross country, moving back to Boston from Los Angeles. I wanted to transcribe our trip and be able to revisit our experiences later when my daughter was older. Nowadays, I’m transcribing cool questions my daughter asks and experiences we share. Recently, she asked me “What is media?” and we had a conversation about the importance of getting truthful information distributed to the world to help people.
On the business side, I am a digital notetaker. I’m capturing all sorts of things: startup ideas, personal action items, goals to share with my colleagues, things like that. I’ll be honest, I’m not taking digital notes every day but every night I reflect on my day. I ask myself how I felt during the day as well as how I think others felt when they interacted with me.
No joke: Each night in bed, I roll through the hours of the day in my head (the calls I was on, the people I spoke with, the things I did) and I reflect on how well I performed. I am relentless in scrutinizing my interactions and performance each day. If I identify a meeting where I feel I wasn’t my best — maybe I wasn’t supportive enough of someone’s creative idea — I make it a point to address that one-on-one with the person the next day. It’s become a bit of an obsession, and my relationships seem to thrive due to my ability to acknowledge when I wasn’t at my best. I learned the power of vulnerability from Brene Brown; she’s an inspiration if you haven’t discovered her yet.
Maybe all of these practices aren’t for you, but as your career unfolds, identifying a few daily practices like this is a great way to stay balanced, happy and ultimately achieve greater success.
Thanks for reading. I love you.