Here Are 3 Shocking Facts About How Illness Blocks Success And What You Can Do To Protect Your Future

Self-Care is a Competitive Advantage

The reality of life is that hard work doesn’t guarantee success. All experienced business professionals know that hard work isn’t optional if you want to succeed, but it’s not a golden ticket. Hard work must be combined with competency and deliver clear value in your business.

Simply put success comes when you know your stuff and others want what you’re creating. So many of us work long hours and make personal sacrifices to ensure we get ahead.

There is a growing number of successful people declaring that they achieved and sustain their success by consistently completing self-care activities – practicing mindfulness, gratitude practices, meditation, exercise, reading, sleeping, etc.

Many busy professionals don’t consider their self-care plan in their success goals and action plans. There’s an increasing amount of data that says that’s a huge mistake!

What is Self-Care?

Self-Care is any activity deliberately done to take care of your physical, emotional, and mental health. It’s something that refuels you and meets your needs.  It’s not selfish to care for yourself, it’s required for maintaining overall well-being.

Self-care may seem like another item on your to-do list, but it is so much more than that. It’s about honoring your whole self. You’re not just a brain that can use a smartphone & crush your competition. You’re a vibrant soul with a wonderful body and a beautiful mind. Each facet of you deserves to be nurtured and strengthened. It only makes you more awesome and further aligns your actual life with your goals.

Each day, we wake up with a new opportunity to start taking care of ourselves.  How will you ensure you arrive at the next level of success healthy?

Does Juggling Your Business Needs Mean Dropping Your Personal Needs?

The sad fact of modern life is people often choose business commitments over self-care activities like sleeping or spending time with people you like. When you make the choice of business over your health and relationships often enough, your overall physical and mental health will suffer. You get caught up in a vicious cycle – don’t have time to spend with friends & family because you have to work. Friends & family don’t include you because they are sick of hearing you have to work and can’t make it.

At the time you decide “business before pleasure,” it seems like a simple one-time thing. But it quickly becomes a habit that’s tough to quit when you realize that you aren’t getting rest, exercise or proper nutrition and miss your friends.

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I’ve Put Business Ahead of Everything and Paid the Price

I’ll never forget the first time I had to cancel a personal trip because of the last-minute business conflict. My sales director calmly said it was a career decision that I had to make for myself, but his tone said “Seriously? Go to the meeting. That is all”. Message received, loud and clear. I didn’t go to a sunny Caribbean destination wedding and headed to a global business team meeting at cold, snowy headquarters. In case, you’re wondering I did lose money on that choice, and the reward was more work as I uncovered new business opportunities and pulled opportunities through my sales funnel.

There are no polite words to describe how I felt when I canceled that long-planned trip. Telling my cousin I had to work was so awkward because I knew I was letting her down. The downside of my choice was a deep personal loss – my family & friends got a huge message “That girl works all the time and is unreliable.” My friends had gotten that message when I had less and less time for dinners, drinks, shows, and fun times. That was the start of my world shrinking to “sleep, maybe the gym, work – repeat” lifestyle.  Increasingly I would work so many hours, fly in late Friday or early Saturday and try to catch up on sleep for the weekend.

Don’t Let the Work FOMO Takeover Your Life

The challenge is that for many professionals, Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) at work can lead to some pretty bad habits –  like taking on too many projects and working longer hours which can trigger higher levels of stress, anxiety, frustration, self-criticism, hypervigilance or imposter syndrome. These habits can have a wide-ranging impact on your health over time.

When your performance suffers, your business suffers, and the stress of it all can make your health suffer. Stress-related illness can make the distance between where you stand today and your goals get even greater.

When you’re not doing your best, regardless of the circumstances, it seems that’s when your inner critic starts working overtime pointing out everything you did and didn’t do that will now destroy your world. I’ve been there and work with clients committed to changing the inner dialogue and breakthrough the plateaus in their brain and career.

Here are the shocking facts about stress-related illness in the U.S.:

Shocking Fact #1: Growing numbers of talented professionals are working themselves into illness instead of success

A 2018 Rising Risk study by technology platform Health Mine found the 25% of U.S. employees who work with an executive whose severe illness is affecting the company’s business. The study acknowledges that often the executives are working long hours and may not even be aware of their illnesses until they get sick.

Shocking Fact #2: Neglecting your health while chasing your business goals has a real cost

According to the Centers for Disease Control in the US, about half of all adults have one or more chronic illnesses, that’s around 117 million people. 86% of US healthcare costs are spent on chronic (often preventable) illnesses.

 Shocking Fact #3: Top companies are planning both employee wellness programs and contingency plans for key leaders when they fall ill from stress-related illnesses

Thanks right, if you don’t make time for self-care today, you may be forced to stop everything from a major issue down the road. Since employers need to manage business risk, they are also updating succession planning to include unexpected illness from critical (often young) leaders and executives. Many employers value their employee’s well-being and bring in resources to help employees get and stay healthy – chair massages, health fairs, fitness incentives, on-site yoga, paid time off for volunteering, weight loss, and smoking cessation programs.

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Why is it so hard to stay on track with Success and Self-Care?

In my experience, most leaders don’t directly say to their team “Cancel on your family, friends, and all you hold dear. You need to work on this now!” But somehow we all get the message to send the “sorry working late” text to our dear ones and muscle forward. Even if your employer isn’t telling you to work more, the fear of missing out (FOMO) on a new career opportunity is real.

If you’re like most people, you want to be sure you don’t miss a connection to your next big challenge. According to a 2018 LinkedIn study of American workers, 65% reported that they fear missing out on an opportunity to succeed if they don’t keep their options open. The only way to beat this FOMO is to stay connected – keep your eyes open for new challenges both in and outside of your current work and keep your network active.

Letting go of self-care activities doesn’t happen overnight, but when I’ve consistently dropped my self-care activities, I have felt the consequences. Stopped going to the gym after work, I feel it. Stopped meeting fun friends for happy hour because you’re “swamped.” You get grumpy from lack of stress-busting belly laughs.  Grumpier if you pause from your spreadsheets and check out Instagram or Facebook photos.

The good news is that the same brilliance you bring to your career is available for you to craft a rewarding personal life.  You just need a little practice and support to build and implement your self-care plan. Your success just might depend on it.

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1 Comment

  1. Michele Clarke-Ceres September 22, 2020at7:54 pm

    Excellent article, thank you for the reminder Victoria.