Finding Work-Life Harmony for High-Achieving MBAs
While there are plenty of rewards to this fast-paced lifestyle, finding the right rhythm and joy in the midst of the busyness requires a deliberate, sustained effort to maintain harmony between body, mind, and soul. If you are midway through the MBA for Working Professionals program or gearing up for it, keeping the following tips in mind will help you stay centered and grounded.
Don’t ignore the subtle signs of burnout
If you are a high-achieving working professional – beware! According to recent research on employee burnout, 71% of working professionals have experienced burnout at least once. Another study found that, along with stress, burnout was the main reason for people wanting to quit their jobs.
Some warning signs of burnout are:
- A sustained lack of interest;
- An inability to get going on routine tasks;
- Persistent fatigue;
- Irritable anger;
- Negativity and cynicism; and
- A sense of being overwhelmed by work tasks.
Does your drive to achieve keep you constantly running at top speed, whether in personal, professional, or social settings? You may be missing or ignoring the subtle warning signs of exhaustion, fatigue, stress, and anxiety.
Cultivate the self-discipline to spend your time wisely
Everyone gets the same 24 hours a day. Discipline is your ticket to finding the time for what matters to you. Instead of leaving your schedule up to chance, cultivate the discipline to optimize and distribute your time wisely for not only your career ambitions but also your personal, family, social and other pursuits.
There is no pursuit of excellence without discipline. Think about the strict daily regime followed by champion athletes, military warriors, scientists, musicians, or any other profession. Their ability to choose what is aligned with their values instead of choosing what is easy is their key to success.
Delegate and empower your team
The early stage of your career is filled with opportunities to prove your value as an individual contributor. These contributions are encouraged with awards, perks, bonuses, and promotions.
But chasing the next goal or milestone can lead to habitual workaholism, and a lack of ability to trust, delegate, and empower your team and colleagues.
As you move up, learn to trust and delegate tasks and responsibilities to your peers and juniors. Be flexible, empathetic, and outcome-oriented even when others might not approach a task in the same way that you would. Delegating should not be mistaken as shying away from responsibility – in fact, it’s a demonstration of your leadership skills. As John C. Maxwell put it, “If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”
Maintain a mindset of growth
In pursuit of optimizing your schedule to the minute, many of us unknowingly get stuck in a familiar pattern and tend to stick with what we know.
But as the saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Our brains benefit from novel stimulation from time to time.
To stay productive while keeping things fresh, make a list of skills you would like to develop and learn and another list of skills and abilities you can teach others for their development. Learning a new skill, or seeing a new skill in a different light by teaching it to someone else, is a life-transforming way to build relationships while continuing to level up.
“The shift to lifelong learning is absolutely essential.”
– Zvika Krieger, Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum
Reserve non-negotiable daily downtime
Set some time aside daily for personal downtime should be a non-negotiable. This is a time for you to rest, reflect, and recharge in the middle of a busy day, with tasks, notifications, and voices competing for your attention.
Downtime is not the same as sleep. It is a period when you are awake, but are consciously switching off from the always-on world around you. Meditation is a great way to achieve this. Even if all you can spare is a five-minute meditation break, having that daily grounding can work wonders in building your resilience and finding balance.
“Mediation provides you with a platform for quieting the noise that’s in your mind, so you can focus on your intention, but it takes discipline.”
– Matthew Ferry, author of Quiet Mind Epic Life.
High achievers, especially MBAs juggling a job and advanced degree at the same time, must realize that focusing overly on your career and academics while ignoring the body and soul is unsustainable.
For long-term resilience, grit, and strength to navigate the challenging waters of career and life advancement, striving to maintain a balance is key.