“I’m on a new high-priority, high-visibility project that has me working 14 hours a day, and probably will for the next 6 months.” That’s what a client shared with me a few weeks ago. This person had previously found a really solid balance between work and life. They’d work extra when needed, but also frequently took weekend hikes and worked out almost every morning. In what seemed like a blink all of that balance went away.
When work (or life) throws everything at you at once, trying to make old practices work is like putting on a kid-sized sweater – it won’t fit. The standard of excellence that you previously held yourself to will need to be adjusted – give yourself grace.
While it’s never pleasant to experience those times, there are ways to not completely be consumed by them.
Small Things Often (while also being a great podcast produced by the Gottman Institute) is the way to get through.
Could my client continue to work out every day before work? Definitely not.
Could priorities shift to ensure that sleep was at the top of the list? Absolutely.
Were weekend trips possible during this time? Not likely.
Could a hike near home happen for a few hours? Definitely.
Could meals be prepped for the week every Sunday? Probably not.
Was it possible to hydrate during the day, even while on a phone meeting? For sure.
Small things often. As we connected during the course of this 6 month project, these small things were what made the workload possible. They provided just enough relief from the increased stress that it was possible to focus and show up in a way that felt in integrity.
We all have these moments – whether it’s multiple life challenges piling up at once, or multiple work challenges – come back to the small things. Don’t fall into the temptation of skipping them because “it’s just a little thing.” Those little things are critical to getting through short-term challenges as well as sustaining long-term change.