Work Smarter, Not Harder - Rethinking the way we live, love and lead
I’m a big fan of the axiom ‘Work smarter, not harder’ these days. I know that I’m not the only one that struggles to keep my head above water sometimes. Balancing all of the commitments and expectations that land on our shoulders can become quite a complex task. Work hard, keep up a social life, get to the gym, eat healthy, hold down a job, volunteer....it sometimes feels like the list has no end! In a world where the demands on us can often be challenging to uphold, prioritizing our own well-being feels revolutionary and liberating and is foundational in helping us be at our best.
For those of you who have read my other blog post, you know that a big focus of my adult life has been helping others. It gives me purpose and is something that I have always found intrinsically rewarding. However, something that really helped me to improve the breadth and depth of my service to others was the process of learning to extend the same values I extended to them to myself, as well.
Whatever field, career path, or stage of life you find yourself in, I would encourage you to reflect on your practice. Have you found balance, or are you using excellence as a synonym for exhaustion? Do you nurture yourself the same way you nurture your friends and family?
Admittedly, I have spent much of my young adult life wearing my Type A personality as a badge of honour. I always figured that burnout was a byproduct of success, and that the only way I could reach my goals was by having progress, grit, and a dogged and uncompromising work ethic at the centre of my identity. Suffice to say, this was not a great idea.
One thing I learned is that being self evaluative is at the core of well-being.
Assessing yourself holistically and honestly will help make whatever you do more sustainable. Once every few months, I sit down with a big piece of paper and write down my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I write down my priorities, and my goals in both my academic life and my personal life. If you ever feel like your life is wildly out of balance, I would encourage you to sit down and try this.
- What’s important to you?
- What are your values, passions, and dreams?
- How do they align with the life you are living now?
While I don’t think that lofty goals are inherently problematic, I think that the path we take to reach them often can be. There is no goal so important that it is worth sacrificing health, relationships, and sanity for. At the core of whatever your dreams and aspirations are, it’s important to know yourself well. Ensuring you get good sleep, a varied & healthy diet, and enough exercise goes a long way towards helping you function at your best.
Your body is your home.
Love it and care for it, and when you find that you can’t, reach out. I would encourage you all to be mindful and intuitive when it comes to your body, mind & spirit this year.
Dream big and work hard, but at the end of the day, remember that this ‘race’ that we tend to get caught up in is only against ourselves. Pace yourself, set your own goals, and you’re already on your way to better living, loving and leading.