The answer to getting more done and leading a balanced life isn’t in beating yourself up about ambitions.
We’ve entered a new paradigm. One in which women, particularly in the West, have greater opportunity than ever before and yet are feeling stressed out, anxious, and exhausted trying to cope with the pressure to succeed in all areas of life. Despite external success, many women have a feeling of not measuring up or being good enough. Other women are leaning in so strongly that they are burning out. It’s a catch-22: how do we lean in without burning out?
Research shows bright girls are particularly likely to see their abilities as innate and unchangeable, and they grow up to be women who are far too hard on themselves—women who will prematurely conclude that they don’t have what it takes to succeed in a particular arena and give up way too soon.
Our experience is that women blame themselves. Therefore, many women are reading Lean In and thinking “Oh, I guess I wasn’t leaning in hard enough, I need to push myself even more.”
Here are the tenets for how to lean in without burning out:
Clearing your mind and living in the moment isn’t about putting productivity on hold. You can be more profitable with less brain clutter.
If you are like me, you probably find yourself multitasking more, yet feeling like it really isn’t benefiting you. As a society, we’re stressing out about more and accomplishing less, adversely impacting both our mindsets and our productivity.
Most of us think of this as the new normal, and we’ve gotten used to juggling more. The begrudging acceptance of this attitude prevents companies from taking actions needed to keep workers focused and productive.
A stretched-thin, stressed-out workplace is not the workplace of the future. It falls on business managers to change this culture and promote focus and compassion—a concept making the rounds in workplace circles known as “mindfulness.” This is the technique of tuning out the noise and focusing deliberately on what is important.
Studies have found that mindfulness at work can increase engagement, productivity, innovation, and measurable business results. Here are three tips to increasing your mindfulness so that you cross tasks off your list and stress about them less.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
The bad news: Our brains are wired to be negative. The good news: Happiness doesn’t mean you have to be naive, just think realistically.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could hack into our own brains and rewire them to be happier?
Science has shown we actually can thanks to a phenomenon called experience-dependent neuroplasticity. “It’s a fancy term to say the brain learns from our experiences,” says Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of the bookHardwiring Happiness. “As we understand better and better how this brain works, it gives us more power to change our mind for the better.”
Hanson assures he isn’t just talking new-age mumbo jumbo. “This is not just ‘smell the roses,’” he says. “I am talking about positive neuroplasticity. I am talking about learning. … The brain is changing based on what flows through it.”
Understanding how our brains function can help us better control them. Here are some key takeaways from Hanson on how our brains work when it comes to wiring for happiness:
You can tell someone is right for the job by learning what they care about and whether they say ‘I’ or ‘we.’
You probably know someone who’s always a step ahead of the game. She can tell, somehow innately, when bad news is coming, or when to take the risk that no one else would touch.
These people are dialed into their “gut instincts,” and are never wrong—almost annoyingly so.
The International Association of Administrative Professionals and OfficeTeam surveyed 3,500 administrative professionals and 1,300 senior managers, and found that 88% make decisions based on gut feelings.
The ability to intuit future problems before they become serious can be an invaluable trait in the workplace. “Any manager will tell you that having an assistant who anticipates his or her needs and offers solutions without being asked is virtually indispensable,” says Robert Hosking, OfficeTeam executive director.
There are five types of intuition:
If you want to boost your productivity, focus, creativity, or sanity, you need to leave your desk and take a walk.
Looking for some creative inspiration? Scientists at Stanford suggest going for a walk—whether indoors or outdoors, in a green space or on a treadmill—to give your creativity a boost. Compared to sitting, they found any form of walking could increase creative thinking by about 60%.
"We’re not saying walking can turn you into Michelangelo," said researcher Marily Oppezzo. "But it could help you at the beginning stages of creativity."
Recent studies, articles and books have done away with the age-old myth that introverts were shy and ineffective in social situations. Introverts are actually a great addition to any team because they’re typically great listeners, writes introvert and OPEN Forum contributor Erika Napoletano.