Sheela, a senior executive at a renowned Fortune 500 company, sought my coaching services to improve her quality of life. She said her demanding job was taking a toll on her. Early morning meetings disrupted her morning self-care routine, and recent layoffs added even more stress to her already crazy schedule. As a result, Sheela felt exhausted, overwhelmed, and helpless.
Sheela’s story is all too common among high-achieving professionals. Running after work deliverables alone was no longer feeding her soul; she valued her relationships with her family, friends, and team. Balancing these different areas of her life became a challenge, but with coaching, Sheela could find a way to improve her quality of life.
Coaching is about maximizing our potential, just like tuning a machine. By understanding the intricate interdependencies of our systems, both internal and external, and maintaining the parts regularly, we can avoid burnout and improve our efficiency. Unfortunately, when stressed, we tend to double down on work activities. But that is not sustainable, so Sheela needed to get creative.
It was evident that Sheela was depleted. And research tells us that cultivating joy is essential to navigating through the rough terrains of life. So that’s where we focused on improving.
These strategies helped Sheela add more joy to her day-to-day life:
1. For Self-Care, Something is Better Than Nothing
Early morning meetings prevented Sheela from attending her favorite exercise class, offered only in the morning. As a result, she was missing out on physical activities, which was detrimental to her well-being. I encouraged her to find an alternative, even if it wasn’t her favorite. She came up with another idea that gave her the well-needed unwinding time to release the mental clutter from work.
2. Work Activities Can Be a Source of Joy
Quality connection and relationships were some of the core values she couldn’t nurture as she mainly focused on the business results at work. However, since she spent so much time there, I asked how she could honor them in regular work interactions. So she intentionally made room for quality conversations with colleagues, making work meetings and casual interactions more enjoyable.
3. Perfection Is the Enemy of Good
Sheela also realized that her high standards (or perfectionism) were taking a toll on her time and energy. So she committed to picking tasks where she could relax her high expectation. It allowed her to delegate more and, as a result, opened up time for her.
It took mindfulness and deliberate practice to implement these strategies. But eventually, Sheela achieved a better balance and, as a by-product, got time for strategic thinking – just what she needed to get ready for the next level of promotion.