9 ways to rest, recover and reset your life to become an exceptional leader

Penny ZenkerLEADERSHIP

white paper boats on white surface with keyword to reset your life

As the world of work continues to evolve, it is now more important than ever for you to prioritize how you reset your life as a leader.

Whether you have a team of 10 or an army of thousands, it is your ability to reset that sets you apart from others. It’s so easy to forget the importance of optimal recovery and reset as a leader when you’re required by the agile work environments you deal with today to remain always available and always on the move. As the world moves to reset organizational cultures and work, it is only right to take intentional breaks and prioritize steps to reset your priorities work, and personal life to be able to avoid getting sucked in and overwhelmed with the constant change, thereby leading to burnout.

Christopher Barnes, writing for Harvard Business Review, states that “insufficient rest leads to poor judgment, impaired creativity, and a lack of self-control.”

Reena Popat, Managing Director at Carter Bond Solicitors, further puts together the term “leader burnout,” which not only affects you as a leader but would negatively impact the organization you are responsible for. Hence, leader burnout is 100 times more dangerous. But how do you prioritize physical, mental, and emotional rest to be a more efficient leader?

In this article, I’ll talk about how to rest, recover, and reset your life as a leader.

The drive to overperform is only possible for a short time; then comes the need to rest to supercharge your resilience in the long run. Click To Tweet

How does resting benefit you and your role as a leader?

As a leadership speaker, I’ve come across too many leaders who fear slowing down, taking breaks or taking time off. Of course, it is fueled by fear of losing control (FOLC). It can also be laced with guilt because many believe that taking a break will let our teams and clients down. We are afraid that things can’t run without us or that something will go wrong. What if taking that break is critical to the health and well-being of you and your organization?

Vacations, close of day and daily breaks are critical resets that used to be standard to help us perform at our best. These resets offer your brain a rest. Rest offers a chance to look at things from a fresher and more objective perspective. Rest helps us to reduce or eliminate stress, putting us in a better position to be more productive in our thinking and our actions. Being a strong leader demands vision and strategy, direction and focus, empathy and understanding. We can’t do that effectively if are overworked and overstimulated. Taking that desired reset moments positions us to better support ourselves, our companies, and our teams.

Finally, a rest does not only enable us to step away; it also allows others to step up and experience independent decision-making and leadership for themselves. It equally provides the opportunity for innovation, leading to a happier team. As Palena Neale rightly puts it, “Think of everything you do to care for yourself as an investment that can increase your overall productivity and effectiveness as a leader.”

Read this: how to prioritize and make your life better

 

9 best ways to reset your life for optimal productivity as an effective leader

Choose an activity you’re passionate about and try new things

Be deliberate about how you spend your free time (and make time for it!). It’s hard to reset your life as a leader if your entire world seems to revolve around work and more work. Consider developing new hobbies, even if they seem like little things like checking out a new restaurant, or museum or getting to know the city where you live better. Don’t be afraid to try bigger things, such as going hiking or taking a vacation outside of your country.

Be intentional about how you sleep

The impact of sleep or the lack of it on leadership is phenomenal. Many leaders bear the lack of sleep as a badge of honor, as though it shows how effective, dedicated and ambitious they are. This is further imprinted by the kind of business cultures we deal with through round-the-clock demands, cross-continental travel, late-night conference calls, and constant interruptions.

It is a myth to believe that you can function to the best of your ability without sleep. In reality, Neuroscience experts explain that sleep deprivation limits your brain power, health, motor skills, and people skills. Therefore, reducing your efficiency in making decisions and solving problems. Sleep deprivation also leads to diminished focus, poor memory, and slower response thereby impairing your competency in an uncertain, fast-paced complex work environment. Hence, you must prioritize a good night’s rest through sleep-inducing habits such as: creating a relaxing atmosphere, understanding your sleep patterns, setting a regular sleep schedule, and eliminating caffeine before you sleep. In truth, sleep has been linked with heightened focus, enhanced cognitive function, improved empathy, and greater capacity for learning.

practices for more restorative sleep and to reset your life as a leader
Delegate more to your people

Delegating is an art you must refine to completely turn your life around personally and professionally.

Your refresh or reset can not be complete if you return to doing everything on your own or if work can’t happen without your “real-time” supervision. Outstanding leaders prioritize trusting others to carry out responsibilities. They involve their partners, peers, teams and clients, and as many people as possible in everything they do.

Hence, you should focus on helping your team and people build their strengths and become better professionals by enabling them to take on more projects.

Instead of “managing things”, true leadership allows for training and coaching others through better, high-quality relationships. Click To Tweet

To reset your life, you need a strong personal support network

Beyond the professional scene, you also need positive people you can rely on. Having a network of people who can support you through your personal and professional choices is highly important. You need to spend more time with these positive people who make you feel good. They will add to your energy and help you or watch you grow. So, set time aside to invest in these wholesome relationships and this inner circle of confidantes can be your medium to unwind, seek advice, vent to, bounce ideas off of, and seek counsel from.

Learn alternatives to unhealthy behaviors

There are some unhealthy habits we’ve picked up in our personal and professional lives that may be stopping us from achieving optimal growth. Perhaps, we’ve been micromanaging all those beneath us, not getting enough exercise, looking down on ourselves, or allowing guilt, fear, or regret to take over us. To completely reset your life, you need to set a time out and write out these unhealthy behaviors and recognize how they hold you back. Then create action plans on how you will eliminate them, one after the other.

 

Read this: 12 ways to avoid distraction

Reset your space

Your workspace might need a facelift to help you reinforce that need for a clean and organized command center. As echoed in my previous article on work environments, you can’t reset your life entirely without eliminating things you’ve outgrown or no longer serve any purpose except taking up space. This includes old sheets, outgrown and outdated clothing, junk mail, and many more. You should equally extend that cleaning exercise to your virtual workspace to declutter your desktop and eliminate old useless files, unwanted apps, and photos, as well as your email. De-cluttering your space can free up and improve your thinking by enabling you to focus on other things in your life that you should truly change.

Get rid of that “always on” mentality

With hybrid work on the rise, the mentality that everyone is only an email away and that the working day no longer stops at 5 pm is our reality. This would not only reverse the benefits of hybrid work but lead to a demotivated team and off-course hamper your own productivity. As much as remote work makes it easier to connect and communicate anytime, we should be intentional about greater work-life balance.

Take a break from the daily grind

While you should prioritize short breaks between tasks throughout your work hours, you also need to schedule days or weeks for recovery every now and then. As echoed by Saundra Dalton-Smith M.D. intentional breaks aren’t all about taking naps but being intentional about rest in every area of our lives. Taking breaks can help mitigate decision fatigue, renew and improve motivation, increase creativity and productivity and consolidate memory. When it comes to how much rest you need, Reena Popat, offers three main ways, daily rest, weekend rest, and vacation time.

Furthermore, Natasha Bonnevalle, lists the different types of rest you need as a leader.  My twist on that would be to look at each one of those as a RESET. Rest is prat of a reset. Stepping back and giving yourself some space is what gives you the greatest perspective allow you to see what you may not have seen previously, think more strategically about what you want and how to best get it then adapt your actions. It is about your choices, behaviors and practices. Each of these are part of the reset practice to lead to your optimal performance and inspire the same from your team. Leaders led by example.

  • Physical reset – through sleeping, taking a walk, napping, stretching, massage, and yoga
  • Mental reset – through short breaks throughout your work days, eliminating recurring negative thoughts, practicing mindfulness
  • Sensory reset – taking breaks from background noise, computer screens, and bright light. Also using mediums such as listening to the sounds of nature or unplugging from technology
  • Creative reset – often involves taking breaks from solving complex problems or developing new ideas by using art mediums such as reading a book, surrounding yourself with images or poems, or watching a beautiful movie.
  • Emotional reset – creating a space where you can be authentic, or express your feelings and be free of all kinds of masks.
  • Social reset – Having a strong support network of positive people even when working virtually.
  • Spiritual reset – meditation, prayer, or involving in any activity that feeds the soul

Set new goals

Once you’ve returned from that well-deserved break, you should go through your yearly personal and professional goals and give them a facelift. Decide what you wish to improve, accomplish, or work toward. That said, no matter the goals, make sure they are manageable, intentional, and specific. You should equally think about what could stand in your way as you work towards those goals, then write out how you plan to overcome those obstacles. Don’t also forget that these goals should be broken into actionable small steps to achieve the best results.

Concluding thoughts

You can grow as a leader, when you offer yourself more time, to reset, renew and recover your energy. It is not only for your body, mind, and heart but also for the betterment of the organization you are responsible for. When you make recovery, rest, and reset an important project, you will become a more effective leader who inspires better efforts of the people around you.