How do you deal with stress? How do you handle overwhelm? How do you manage opportunity?

I don’t know about you, but those questions used to keep me up at night.

Before I learned how to change my health and wellness habits for the better, I had packed on 47 extra pounds from poor nutrition, poor sleep and poor (actually no) movement or exercise. Not only did I have to buy new, bigger jeans, I lost momentum and it was hard to focus on my priorities.

The productive leaders I know today are often anxious about all their responsibilities. They have a lot to do today, and most likely they will have more within a year or two. There’s a difference, however, between getting things done productively, and getting things done because you’re working crazy-long hours, through weekends and into the night (even on vacation).

What makes the difference? Knowing how to manage that anxiety effectively through a whole-life approach to your work/life balance, or integration, or intersection. However you define it, there are factors at play and important questions to ask.

Here are some to get you thinking:

It has been a long day.
Should you drink another cup of coffee? Or go for a walk around the block?

You’re tired, consistently putting in 12, even 15 hours each day.
Should you call in sick tomorrow, so you can stay in bed and catch up on your rest?

You’ve been busy; so, so busy.
Can you put that checkup with the doctor off another couple of months?

If I were sitting in your office with you this month, I’d ask you these questions. (I’ve got a few more if you’d like. Email me anytime!) But, those questions are all CONTENT based questions. What about context? What about the why?

Take that first prompt: It’s been a long day. Most likely, the reason you resonated with that one is that YOU have long days. Maybe you just took on a new role, or you’ve asked to join the pool of next-year’s promotees. Or, perhaps there’s some stuff going on at home. Are you and your spouse managing big, upcoming decisions? Do you have a child who needs a little extra attention right now?

It’s one thing to imagine all that you’re dealing with, how you’re managing everything and what to do to get through the day. But, I have something more for you to consider: I’ll remind you that the people you work with are watching you. And, so are the people you live with. They’re always watching you.

When they look your way, what do you give them to see?

Most likely, you recognize the fact that it really is hard to stop thinking about work. If there’s something you need to get done, it’s going to stay on your mind until it’s finished. While you’re getting paid to put in the 40+ hours each week, you’re spending MUCH more than that thinking, worrying, and replaying that one interaction with someone at work today.

I’ve been an executive coach and author of books on productivity and self-management for nearly 20 years. Readers of my books tell me that they know they need to do things differently, but they often don’t know where to start, and they can’t seem to ingrain their newly built habits.

Since 1999:

  • I’ve flown more than 3 million miles with airlines
  • Stayed in hotels more 2,000 nights and
  • Have (conservatively) ordered more than 6,000 restaurant meals

I’ve worked 1-on-1 with more than 500 leaders, and I’ve spoken to more than 4,000 audiences worldwide.

The topics we discuss are always focused on their personal organization and professional productivity habits AND results. But, I have found that they often are interested in expanding the conversation beyond leading people, managing email or planning for next year’s goals. Consistently, people ask me three questions:

  1. How are you so rested?
  2. What do you do to stay in shape while  traveling so much?
  3. Why don’t you order and eat more while we’re out?

People notice.

Clients, vendors, and coworkers can’t not watch what you do and how you take care of yourself. It’s tough to positively influence others if YOU are stressed out, exhausted, and out of shape. It’s hard to stay focused on your priorities if you over-eat and over-drink during your work trips.

You’ve got to decide to take care of your body, your mind, and your spirit. Yes, it’s “more productive” to skip your three-times-per-week visits to the gym… you have a lot to do! I mean think about all you could get done with those 4 hours that it would take! However, you have to know that not working out will affect you in negative ways. Similarly, ordering fast food – especially when you are already hungry and will tend to eat more, faster – instead of preparing your own snacks and healthy meals hurts more than it helps.

Remember, those around you are watching you. Now is your time to step up and be the leader you want them to see.

You don’t have to change everything at once. Make this the month you look in the mirror and study your wellness habits. Start small, be consistent and set yourself up to win.

Here are three tips you can use right away:

  1. 30 minutes before you go to sleep, practice any relaxation technique you’re comfortable with.
  2. This week, commit to TWO easy, aerobic workouts (at home, your gym, or in the hotel!).
  3. Tonight, eat 3/4 of the meal you order. (If you’re at home, serve yourself a “little” less.)

If they’re watching you (and they are, trust me!) give them a great example.

They’ve earned it.

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