Self-care for Leaders

Healthy Habits for the New Year to Make You a More Effective Leader

Article by Kimberly Prescott

Photography by Michael Chance

Originally published in Potomac Lifestyle

I’ve always been a natural leader, and my successes in my career have compelled others to lean on my strategies to achieve accomplishments as well. Until this past year, I’ve measured success on outcomes. I had not considered my wellness in my strategic planning because business was business. As it has for many others this past year, COVID slowed me down. Well, not initially. At first, I was working 12 to 14-hour days helping my current clients, future clients, and businesses that were shutting down. Instantly spoiled by the convenience of convening with others without needing to build in travel time between meetings, I attended every virtual event I could for nearly six months. By mid-August, I hit a wall. I felt like my brain was constantly occupied and overloaded with information, with nothing prioritized and little accomplished. I had to ask myself whether I was being productive, or just keeping busy. I realized it was the latter, and what’s worse, I wasn’t treating myself well. I wasn’t eating or sleeping well. If my mind was not in sync with my own body, how could I lead others? 

Mental and physical health and wellness are key components to being a happy person, and a more successful leader. In August, I made a few decisions that allowed me to balance my business demands, as well as what my body was demanding of me. I limited my daily meetings and reserved Fridays for strategizing and completing action items. I decided to awaken an hour earlier to quietly meditate. It was also crucial for me to create boundaries while working from home. It had become too easy to walk from one room to another, and work as long as I wanted. I decided to end my work day at a set time, just as I would leaving my office building. I also started leaving my business phone in my office each evening, so I wouldn’t check emails, and I made certain personal phone apps inactive from 9:30pm until 5:00am.These small changes have made a significant difference in the way I manage myself, my time, and others. I am more focused, more effective, and more present for my clients. Despite all of the uncertainty we are facing in this new year, we can be assured that our work will maintain some type of virtual or hybrid lifestyle. Considering this, we should make sure we are caring for ourselves and ensuring we are the most healthy and effective leaders possible, as our teams are depending on us.

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