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Forget Those Long Hours: Self-Care Drives Success

The case for self-care as a primary success strategy for your career.

Source: Free-Photos/Pixabay

I’ve been speaking to corporations about the importance of self-care and burnout prevention for years. I’ve also followed the work of leadership expert Michael Hyatt for years. The two worlds collided recently when I listened to a podcast version of Self-Care as a Leadership Discipline, which he presented to 85,000 leaders at this year's LeaderCast event.

Hyatt’s case for self-care as a key driver of workplace and leadership success is so solid and compelling. It makes me more determined than ever to continue to promote self-care in the workforce. I will summarize some of the key ideas here for you:

1) Forget “The Hustle Fallacy”

If your primary success strategy is “hustling” and working as hard as you humanly can, you’ll eventually fail and pay a big price for it. According to Hyatt, this approach to your career will produce a high level of both physical and relational pain over time. You’ll eventually “burn out or blow out.”

2) "Self-Care Has Demonstrable, Career-Enhancing, Business-Building Benefits"

Hyatt defines self-care as “the activities that make for a meaningful life outside of work, while contributing to better performance at work.” Read that sentence again. These self-care activities are actually workplace performance enhancers. The list of activities that constitute self-care includes getting enough sleep, eating properly, exercising, quality time with the people you love, meaningful hobbies and having time for personal reflection. To quote Hyatt: “The bigger your vision, the more you have to prioritize self-care”. Amen.

3) "Self-Care Gives You Energy"

What if you don’t have time for self-care? Hyatt’s response is that you can’t give yourself more time, because there are only so many hours in a day. “But, you can bring a sharper, more energized you to bear on the time you’ve got available.”

He refers to the work of Jim Loehr, coauthor of The Power of Full Engagement.Productivity is less about managing your time and more about managing your energy.”

Most people get this backward, working harder but less productively. He points to “The Law of 50”, in which research has demonstrated that working more than 50 hours in a given week, produces zero productivity gain. You become less efficient overall.

Self-care will “sharpen your blade”; you’ll be able to use the time you do have, to work more efficiently and effectively. You’ll be better, period, and so will your work.

4) "Self-Care Gives You an Edge"

Sharpening your blade through self-care is essential, not indulgent, according to Hyatt. Research evidence supports the fact that self-care leads to higher workplace performance. Your mind gains power from proper rest and recreation.

Self-care is essential to your creativity. As Hyatt states, “sleep-deprived people generate fewer original ideas and tend to stick with old strategies.” Intentionally taking time for fun can set you up cognitively for innovative breakthroughs.

Exercising is known to decrease stress and anxiety and boost your confidence. “Exercise increases the belief that we can accomplish difficult tasks, and fuels greater performance at work.” If that hasn’t convinced you yet, self-care in the form of exercise is also linked to higher lifetime earnings.

5) "Self-Neglect Causes Crises That Cripple Careers"

Hyatt shares a story of a colleague who lived a workaholic lifestyle for years, neglecting himself and his family. This approach to career success first broke down his family, “and eventually broke down the career he’d fought so hard to build”.

Taking proper care of yourself and your life sets you up for “multidimensional success” and longterm career success and endurance. Longterm success requires sustainable habits. That’s a simple yet powerful fact.

Hyatt asks:

“Are you willing to be an industry titan at the expense of being a loving father or mother?”

“Do you want to be the youngest executive in the boardroom, even if it costs you your health?”

He believes (and I wholeheartedly agree) that “self-care offers a brighter alternative.”

People who slow down enough to be fully present in their work and enjoy it, will be able to do that work longer and perform better over time. Your body will be properly looked after. Your family will have a far better chance of staying intact. And you’ll have time to cultivate friendships “that you can take into your golden years.”

Take care of yourself and your life.

When you’re tempted not to, remind yourself that it’s actually the key to success.

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