Career Success & Wellness: Friends or Foes?
In my line of work as a career coach for Black, Millennial women in Corporate America, I come across many women with a single-minded focus on achieving narrowly-defined career success. In our first few sessions, it becomes apparent that money and titles are their main pursuits, with personal health and wellness relegated to the back burner.
While I like money and titles as much as the next person, my mission is to promote the idea that we can have career success and wellness in our bodies and minds. You can climb to whatever levels you desire in your career without compromising your health. For so long, we have been socialized with the falsehood that we cannot have it all; that we must choose between climbing the corporate ladder and making time for other things, ourselves included.
Many have long turned off the sensor to their physical bodies, now unable to tune in and detect when they are not physically or mentally well. I have always felt that our bodies are so intelligent and quietly communicate a host of messages to us. However, when we drown out these subtle messages with deadlines, presentations, work travel, etc, we end up normalizing a variety of symptoms that are in fact, early warning signs. Ironically, many of us verbalize how important we believe we are, but do our actions and daily priorities bear witness?
One of the perks I offer my clients free of charge, is the Intelle Wellness Journal, which I manually created years ago out of my own desire to listen to my body better. The practice of keeping track of how a woman specifically feels in her body and mind on a nightly basis is a profound one. Clients using this journal are beginning to have light bulb moments that would have been missed had they not taken this approach. Some report that they have been dealing with the same digestive issues for weeks, feeling bloated every single day. Others say they have had the same migraine on specific days of the week when a big report is due. There are also reports of overeating, anxiety, skin breakouts, irregular bowel function, irregular menstrual cycles, persistent sadness or anger, etc. Many find themselves reminiscing about their healthier selves before the imbalance in their lives manifested weight gain, chronic fatigue, and a whole host of other “dis-eases”.
The big, yet simple idea is that your personal health should be the number one thing on your list of priorities. Without it, not much else is sustainable.
Most corporations now invest in their employees’ health and wellness going beyond health insurance and offering unlimited vacation days, free onsite health classes, employee wellness hotlines, fully equipped gyms, full-sized kitchens, etc. One of my previous employers offered in office yoga, circuit training, Zumba and Run club. They provided an annual financial incentive for achieving health goals related to weight, BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. Each employee also received a quarterly bonus to use towards anything health related such as paying for gym membership, buying sports gear, etc.
How many of us work for companies such as the above, but take limited to no advantage of these programs? Are you that person that sits out every single yoga or Zumba class while your colleagues are benefitting? Does your company have a state of the art kitchen, but you have no time or inclination to prepare or pack a healthy lunch, and so you just grab whatever is available? Are you that person who, come year end, has taken no days off, even though vacation days are just as valuable as your physical paycheck?
Of course, we all have days, weeks even, when we must push extra hard to get something important done and we miss a day or two at the gym. Or eat out. Or cancel doctor visits. The danger arises when a few days or weeks become months and years; when what was once a one-off becomes your norm; when the gap between what you know and what you do widens continuously.
When this happens, you have created an unhealthy competition between your desire for career progress and your wellness and I assure you, neither will win.
Do you need support from a career coach on how to create balance? Do you want to work with a coach who equips you with tactical wellness strategies you can insert into your day? Do you want to receive your free copy of the Intelle Wellness Journal? Click here to schedule a consultation to learn more.