About six weeks before my wedding, I was a wreck.
My boss had just been fired. My job was stressful. I’d been working long hours and traveling like crazy. The only thing that made me feel better were plain bagels from Dunkin Donuts with lots of cream cheese.
When I for my second wedding dress fitting, I gained so much weight that I couldn’t zip my dress. But instead of hitting the gym — or cutting out the refined sugar and processed food — I tried a hack.
I started taking a drug called Alli.
Does Alli work for weight loss?
Guess what? Alli works. Guess what else? It gives you a kind of diarrhea where it just slides out of your body without warning. That’s how I learned to keep an extra pair of clothing and underwear at work.
That’s the wrong lesson, but, at that point, I wasn’t a self-leader and didn’t elevate my wellbeing.
Fix work by prioritizing your wellbeing.
You can’t fix work — for yourself or your team — if you’re not eating nutritious food, sleeping more than a few hours each night, and moving your body with integrity. You certainly can’t fix work if you’re pooping on the job.
It took me a few years, but I learned a few core concepts of wellbeing along my journey to leadership. Self-leaders eat to do instead of eating to feel. Self-leaders prioritize sleep so they can be clearheaded and emotionally regulated when they’re awake. Self-leaders don’t sit all day long at their desks and moan about work. They get up, move, and test their endurance in the gym so they can endure complex challenges and conundrums at work.
Why your wellbeing matters.
You’re probably a corporate professional who doesn’t live in a food desert or lacks access to healthy choices. You probably have unlimited PTO or some version of vacation, or you’re a gig worker who could theoretically structure your day differently.
Life doesn’t have to be so miserable. Your job doesn’t have to suck. And you don’t need to be at war with your body. Stop looking for some external force to solve your problem — time to act like a capitalist and use every advantage at your disposal to prioritize your wellbeing.
There’s enough free and clear advice on the internet to help pull yourself up from the doldrums and fix work. Start with a self-assessment of how you spend your time. Pull up your calendar from your worst day. How did you spend your time? How did you spend the time not documented on the calendar? What did you eat? How much did you sleep?
Your worst days are almost always unstructured and disorganized. Or they’re not your days — they belong to other people. Prioritizing your wellbeing doesn’t start with giving up carbs or consuming special foods — it starts with your calendar.
Your calendar shouldn’t be a reflection of how people need you. It should be a reflection of how you lead yourself through life. Start elevating what matters to you by beginning with three priorities: eating healthy food with people you love, sleeping 7-8 hours a night, and moving your body in multiple planes throughout the day.
No matter, remember this mantra: wellbeing starts on your calendar, purpose starts on your calendar, peace begins on your calendar. And the ultimate administrator of your calendar? It’s you.