Most of us have been there at some point: that place where the work grind becomes all consuming and we become so exhausted, that we feel our entire life is running on some numb auto-pilot. We continue to tick off our ‘to do’ lists, like the true little troupers that we are, but we find that doing so lacks joy and meaning. We are simply ‘going through the motions’. Wins no longer feel like wins. We start to resent everything. Things that in the past were easy feel hard. We labour over every decision. When the grind has taken its toll, both professionally and personally, it can be hard to pull ourselves out of this 21st century malaise. We can though – it just takes a few things to happen, and an executive coach can help.
The first and most important step is to recognise that we are there: that place where we’re feeling burnt out, exhausted, short-fused, cynical and generally ‘not ourselves’. This requires some emotional intelligence. It requires knowing and understanding self.
Once the realisation has hit there are things we do, steps we can take, as long as there’s a genuine desire to not stay in this negative space. We just need the discipline to act and make small changes that can make a big difference to our wellbeing. As an Executive Coach I work with individuals who often feel like this. Having an independent support person, who offers you the opportunity to reflect, and provide a sounding board for your ideas and insights, can be invaluable.
One of the models which I find particularly useful for initially assessing what an individual client may need to do to remedy this malady is the S.P.A.C.E model. While there is no doubt that work and life situational issues can have an impact on feeling burnt out (e.g. overwork demands, relationship strain etc) and we deal with this also, having good S.P.A.C.E means that out coping mechanisms are well tuned to help us deal with them.
Professor Victor Strecher from the University of Michigan suggests positive mental health and wellbeing are influenced by 5 things. He uses the acronym S.P.A.C.E (Sleep, Presence, Activity, Creativity, Eating) as a neat little way to remember it all.
We all know that sleep is a critical component of human functioning and coping. Sleep deprivation is still used as a form of wartime torture. Studies have shown that a lack of quality sleep can be the equivalent of walking around with a blood alcohol content over 0.5! Sleep is good for us.
So my first question to you as your executive coach if you have hit the burnt out feeling or grind is: “How is your sleep?” How much sleep are you getting and how well are you sleeping? Do you feel refreshed when you wake?
Another useful tool to pull us out of the exhausted grind is to practice mindfulness or meditation. Before you roll your eyes at me and think “she’s hocking that new age shit again”, bear with me.
The benefits of meditation or mindfulness on human wellbeing is well (and I mean well) researched and documented. It cannot be disputed. For those of you that are thinking ‘but yes I don’t have the time’ – seriously consider making the time.
Your productivity, your energy, and your general clarity of thought and decision-making will increase significantly. Investing 15 minutes in yourself each day will make a difference to your ability to cope with your work life. There are many free and cheap meditation apps that can get you started if you are new to spending 15 minutes with yourself in silence.
Again, the benefits of physical activity are well known and scientifically based. Moving our bodies whether through exercise, sports, or climbing the stairs at work as a form of physical movement, is good for our wellbeing. It helps us cope. It balances us out.
It makes us physically and emotionally healthier. 20 minutes a day – even a walk – is all that it takes. How often do we hear people saying I was in a bad mood, or I was feeling overwhelmed, and I went and shook it off with some exercise?
Now some folks find this one a bit harder than the others. Pursuing an interest where you can create, make, and explore helps us ‘balance out’, helps us cope with the world and helps stop burnout.
For some this is art, craft or music. It might be writing or drama, or even gardening. In a corporate world that is so all consuming and busy it’s easy to lose the time for activities that are creative and satisfying.
Yes this old nugget! Eating well gives us the nutrition our bodies need to work as they should. A healthy diet, combined with exercise will increase our energy levels.
We all know that each of the S.P.A.C.E activities benefits us, makes us more effective and increases our wellbeing. It fights the grind. It fights burn out.
Ask an overweight person who would like to lose weight if they know how to, and most will say, “yes I need to eat less and eat healthier”. Ask a person who is lacking in energy if they know exercising and eating well will increase their energy and they are likely to say “yes, of course I know that”.
Knowing what to do is one thing – doing it is another. This is where an executive coach can assist you. They can act as your co-goal setter, cheerleader, debriefer, and can hold you accountable for the things you know you need to do but don’t.
An executive coach can help you reflect on what barriers are in place, physical or mental, that may be preventing you from being the best you. All of these activities are renewing and assist fight burn out. An executive coach can help you ensure that time is set aside in your busy life to focus on and address these topics. We all know that an executive who is functioning to the best of their human potential is one that is definitely going places.
If you would like the support of a professional executive coach to better understand what would make you the most happy in your work, give us a call and book an appointment today – (03) 8686 9102 or email us at here – https://www.letstalkcareer.com/contact-us/. Let’s Talk Career work nationally across Australia and have career counsellors and executive coaches in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Far North Queensland.