Building Habits for a Better Tomorrow
I think we can all relate to the human tendency to reminisce and ruminate on the past. With COVID-19 causing widespread changes to the nature of our work, I know firsthand how easy it can be to think about the “good old days” prior to the outbreak of a global pandemic.
I’ll be the first to admit that I often find myself missing the way things were. My leisurely 20-minute walking commute through a neighborhood park and a bustling city has been replaced by a 20 second shuffle from my kitchen to my home office. The coveted lunch-time conversations with colleagues and friends at the local sandwich shop have been replaced by quiet meals in front of my computer screen. And, Friday nights are now spent perusing Netflix, instead of at a lively bar with a 2-for-1 happy hour special.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”Socrates
For me, and for many others, the transition to a virtual workplace has been far from easy. COVID-19 has dramatically changed how I structure my days, my work, my family, and my social life. However, as Socrates so eloquently stated, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Rather than viewing change as something that opposes us, I think it’s time we view it as something that liberates us. It’s time we started to focus on using COVID-19 as an opportunity to build the new – and that starts with building the right habits.
Building the New by Building Habits:
At Pinsight, we firmly believe that leadership is developed through honing and refining relevant micro-habits (1). However, in order to effectively develop those micro-habits, leaders must make sure the habits in the other parts of their lives support the mission. Simply put, leaders must develop their self-care habits, if they want to develop their leadership competencies. When we take time to support our mental, emotional, and physical well-being, we’re able to perform better and invest more in our work—and given the changes and uncertainties caused by COVID-19, it’s important that leaders implement self-care habits, now more than ever.
Here are some self-care habits leaders can incorporate into their routines, in order to focus their energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new during COVID-19:
- Daily Journaling: Studies show journaling can help people manage and learn from negative experiences, by giving them an opportunity to reflect on and make sense of their lives. By taking 10-20 minutes each day to journal, leaders will reap the benefits of strengthened immune systems (2), greater self-awareness, and faster mental and emotional healing (3).
- Walks throughout the workday: Making time to get up and moving throughout your day is crucial for maintaining mental focus. Taking even 5 minute break from work every few hours to go on a walk has been proven to re-energize employees, while providing them with cardiovascular benefits and increasing their engagement at work (4).
- Being together while being apart: Social support systems help leaders to reduce stress and foster a sense of meaning and purpose in life. While it is difficult to physically gather during COVID-19, there are still many ways people can connect to each other. Making a habit of spending 20 minutes per day talking to friends or family over a virtual lunch break, coffee date or book club can help leaders stay motivated, engaged, and fulfilled during this time.
The changes caused by COVID-19 have undoubtedly been difficult to navigate, and we’re all trying to adjust to a new normal. While it can be easy to glorify the days prior to this pandemic, we can’t afford to live in the past. We need to continue looking toward the future and focus on building the new. But building the new requires building the right habits, and to do that, we need to start with our own self-care.
(2) Murray, Bridget. “Writing to Heal” Monitor on Psychology, 33(6). June, 2002. http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun02/writing
(3) Phelan, Hayley. “What’s All This About Journaling?” The New York Times. The New York Times, October 25, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/style/journaling-benefits.html.
(4) Kuhnel et al. “Take a break! Benefits of sleep and short breaks for daily work engagement”. Institutional Knowledge at Singapore Management University. 2017‹ Previous PostNext Post ›