Updated: Dec 24, 2020
In the "It's Okay:" series, we’re discussing the personal advancement questions that you don’t want to ask your boss. That break you want to take? Asking for more? It’s okay.
When was the last time that you took a moment for yourself? Like, a *real* moment.
Breaks are an essential part of professional advancement, so it’s good to remember that you don’t need to constantly hustle. If that's what you’re all about, then go for it; we’re cheering you on! But for those who are having a particularly hard time keeping up productivity, we’re here to redefine what it means to hustle, because toxic “hustle culture” is REAL, and let's face it – it's exhausting.
We get it. You may have pipe dreams to work hard now and retire early, but if you keep that pace, you might burn out long before you get the chance to enjoy a well-deserved retirement. With some healthy hustling and knowing your limits, you'll be professionally advancing like you never did before.
Breaks don’t always have to be a fancy vacation or a soul-searching road trip, though they definitely don’t hurt (here are some dreamy, safe Airbnb’s if you’re looking for a good reflection road trip). The point is that it’s okay to not always be working toward something. Being productive all the time is – quite frankly – impossible, and it's going to lead you to burn out quicker. Not sure what professional burnout feels like? Here’s a quick “symptom” list:
Exhaustion (mental, emotional and/or physical)
Cynicism or pessimistic outlook – think getting snippy with teammates
Burnout can ruin progress, which is where the breaks come in to save the day. Sometimes, breaks are all about your headspace: finding your focus in the center of your work and personal life, while taking a moment to step back and breathe. Breaks can take many different forms. Maybe it’s a 17-minute midday-power nap, a quick trip to your favorite coffee shop, or a dance session to whatever is next on your playlist.
If you haven’t been prioritizing breaks in the past, then you're not prioritizing yourself. Would you let your laptop or your phone run out of battery? Definitely not – you'd give it time to recharge, so let’s get into understanding your limits and how you can start relaxin'.
It’s A Sign of the Times – 2020 and Professional Burnout
Rolling Stone – Harry Styles, Watermelon Sugar
As fashion icon and international pop sensation, Harry Styles says, "We gotta get away from here!"
In this wild, weird world we’re living in now, we all could use a little run-away from reality.
I don’t have to tell you. You already know that 2020 has been a s#*!show of a year. Finding your peace-of-mind in a “normal” year is already hard. But, finding it amongst the chaos of an – como se dice – “unprecedented” year? It’s like trying to get the last chip in the Pringle can, insanely difficult… but not impossible! Breaks, Now More Than Ever™ before, are essential to your overall health and productivity.
Over the past months, there have been reports of improved productivity, retention, job satisfaction, and focus connected to the rise of remote work. But even with the positivity that’s come, there are also additional stressors, such as increased distractions, restructured processes, and impaired connection due to the distanced workplaces. Tensions are higher, and stress is around every corner. Not to mention, you know, the uncertainty of a global pandemic. Mixing work and home have its benefits, but it also means it's harder to separate the two.
Considering the United States in the list of top ten overworked countries, it should be no surprise that most professionals are burnt out and in desperate need of a recharge. With COVID-19 adding to our long list of stressors, an increased 75% of responders polled that ‘Rona is a HUGE (if not the main) reason they are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted in their jobs and their lives this year. 😪
With another year of WFH looming over our heads, it’s time to get mentally in-the-zone. Let’s get 2021 off to a good start with beneficial precedents set from the beginning. Don’t put off taking a break.
Quick Pulse Check:
What have you been wanting to do?
What keeps your mind happy?
What makes you feel whole?
Or, what just keeps your stress away?
Now Denouncing: Hustle Culture
From Wildflower Illustrations
Hustle culture has dominated our society with taglines and ideas like “work hard, play hard,” “just do it” (sorry, Nike), and “side hustles.” Everyone seems to be starting something new, especially during the pandemic. People are encouraged and praised for hustling every hour of every day, but burnout is real.
I’m here to tell you: Don’t feel guilty for prioritizing your needs. We give you permission to waste time. It’s for your own good! This is not the time to offer up excuses for pushing your time for yourself to another day.
How do I know? Because I, like most of us, let the crushing weight of wanting a thriving career guilt me into feeling like I was never doing enough for my job. It’s really rough having to always be "on." You’re an ambitious human, and ambitious humans always show up to deliver. But being ambitious doesn’t mean you should ignore yourself. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
What it actually means is this: YOU NEED A BREAK FROM THE HUSTLE.
It’s time for you-time. It’s the holidays, which is prime time for you to take a break. The whole world, even the stock market, takes a break during the holidays, so there’s almost no excuse, or a better time, for you to recharge. How do you do that? Here are our suggestions:
Schedule out some time to rest
By resting now, you're ensuring that you have more energy to work on yourself and your goals in the future. You have your whole life to hustle, so make the most of the downtime you have this season. We may be physically resting, but our minds are usually still at work. This is when it’s useful to engage our senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch) to help us connect to the present moment. Put on your favorite song, really savor that cookie, laugh at your favorite show, and take note of how that plush pillow feels against your cheek.
Take time to breathe
Like Faith Hill once sang, “Breathe, just breathe.” And it really works – proper breathing is connected to so much more than you’d think. Remember to take a few deep breaths when things start to speed up to help bring you to the present moment. This can help to slow things down and put everything in perspective, along with helping with stress and anxiety.
Actively work on your mental health
Using these tactics and creating some space allows for mental health to become a priority. As you should know by now, we’re an advancement company that lives by the idea of taking small, intentional steps to help you achieve your ideal career. In the same tone, by taking small steps in the right direction for your mental health, you can increase your mental capacity for work and other everyday life moments. What that looks like is up to you (everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for someone else) – whether it’s weekly yoga, regular visits to your therapist or doctor, or anything in between, mental health is key to effective work, personal growth, and success.*
Find a hustle buddy who can do both
Hustle Buddies, or our work wing(wo)men, can be great for helping us get through the tough moments of our careers, especially when motivation is a struggle to find. Whether it’s the same person or someone new, it’s also important to find someone who keeps you grounded and reminds you that it’s “okay to not always work on yourself.” Sometimes you just need to relax, and talking to someone who ~gets it~ can be the biggest relaxer in your tool kit.
Time to Waste Time
There are so many ways you can give yourself that break you need, and that’s the point – all it takes is a bit of time off to make you work better in the future. Here are some things to consider as you recharge:
What do you value in your personal life?
What takes your mind off your stress?
What really sets your heart on fire?
Who do you really enjoy talking to? Prioritize that (and them) for once.
Will this help me be better, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s productive?
Think of the small steps that you could take as a break from your hustle, and when you're choosing the perfect break for you, keep yourself in mind. Focus on managing your energy rather than focusing on constantly improving, and you'll naturally and unintentionally do the latter.
There’s so much you can do to slow down and smell some of those proverbial roses. Even if you aren’t able to take as long of a break as you’d like (we see you first-year analysts and executives!), here are a few more things you can do on a day-to-day basis:
You could watch that holiday movie that you’ve been waiting to see on Hulu (might I recommend “Happiest Season?”). Do your favorite exercises (if that’s your thing). Or don’t, there’s time for gym memberships when there’s not a global pandemic. Read a book ~for fun~ and no other reason than that it makes you happy – even if it’s some trashy romance novel (we don’t judge. NY Times Bestselling Author and Instagram’s Head of Fashion Partnerships Eva Chen loves them). Check off the items on your to-do list that have ~absolutely nothing~ to do with work. Or, do nothing at all without feeling guilty that you’re wasting time. WASTE. TIME.