In March I was invited to deliver a time management workshop to 200 NYPD Captains, Inspectors, Chiefs and Deputy Commissioners. It was an honor and it was fascinating. I learned how much these leaders are juggling — managing their precinct, developing their teams, community relations, and the constant disruption of emergencies.
The day was also moving. I realized that first responders are trained, and hold as a defining value, to serve and respond. And that can come at a cost — to balance, to home life, and to their own recognition, success and growth.
Sound familiar? Yes, these professionals have the same challenges we do, just revved way up. It is really hard to prioritize when that means saying no to someone. Thing is, being in perpetual overwhelm can lead to consistent distraction, which can make you lose focus and be checked out with those you care about most. It can lead to chronic stress that affects mood, energy, weight, and health. It can lead to career goals going off the rails — You do projects well, but don’t have time to celebrate, or get the learning and recognition you deserve. You don’t have time to work on what will grow you as a leader, and progress and promotion become elusive.
Here’s the good news. You can change it with a shift in mindset. Saying no and putting your needs first can be hard, but as the “oxygen mask” instructions on the airplane, you must take care of yourself first even when it feels counterintuitive. And if you can’t put yourself first, get curious about what’s getting in your way. Hint: It’s usually not “them” or the situation.
This week would you give some thought to what matters most to you right now — balance, personal or career growth, or something else. Where do you want to be in a year? What quarterly goals do you need to meet to get there? If those are non-negotiable, what do you need to delegate (or learn to delegate) to get there? What outside instruction might you need to learn. If necessity is the mother of invention, make your needs a necessity, and get inventive.
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