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Leaders Behaving Badly – Breaking the Bad Habits We Fall Into

Young Woman Working at Home, Small OfficeShame on you. Seriously. You talk a good game but you don’t live it!

Women who encourage other women to have more balance and be more present in their family’s lives. All the while, they are a boiling pot of stress ready for the lid to blow off and to let out all the pent up steam. All because of a few bad habits.

Professional women are unique creatures. We have the amazing ability to appear to be doing it all — Killing it at work; making it to all the kids’ soccer games; volunteering at the local animal shelter. Only to go home and collapse from the exhaustion of our lives.

The problem with living like that…being on, going non-stop, is that something needs to take a backseat to all the other priorities. And, guest what? It’s usually our health and wellness. And, that sucks.

Women, and high achieving professional women in particular, don’t know when to stop and take time for themselves. It seems selfish and extravagant. We’ve worked really hard to get where we are (despite earning 73% of our male counterparts ). And, research shows that women and our “do it all” personalities burnout faster than men (60% more according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). That stress leads to weight gain, high blood pressure, and a bunch other health problems.

So, admitting the problem is the first step, right? Then, what’s next? Where do women start in breaking these bad habits so they can continue to be high-achievers and not burned out couch zombies by the age of 40?

Here are some of the common “bad habits” I see in my clients and some of the strategies I’ve recommended to them. It’s not enough to say, “stop it.” Women aren’t wired that way.

Bad Habit #1: Running from meeting to meeting from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Solution: First of all, I’ve seen executive women who don’t even leave time for a bathroom break. It’s time to rethink your schedule if you can’t even pee. We all like to think we are absolutely indispensable to every conversation, I challenge you to be a true leader and delegate routine meetings to a junior colleague or someone you are mentoring. Give them the opportunity to shine so you have the opportunity to hit the restroom and regroup for the strategic meetings. Then, get a report out from them in a walking meeting. Grab a coffee or smoothie and head outside (weather permitting) to discuss.  You’ll get some fresh air and maybe some fresh ideas.

Bad Habit #2: Multitasking at lunch to catch up.

The Solution:  Focus on one thing at a time. There is truly no good way to multitask (don’t believe me? Science says so!). When nothing gets our full attention, nothing gets done well. If you have 30 minutes to eat lunch, dedicate half that time to eating. Just eating. Then, use the rest to answer emails, make appointments, scroll Facebook. Whatever to-dos you have that have been slated for your lunch time. This approach is important because being mindful of what you eat leads to better eating habits — like proper portions, and more nutritious choices. Bonus – you might actually enjoy eating. Focusing on one thing at a time will yield better results for your health, your career and family  life!

Bad Habit #3: Keeping your phone by your bed and checking it first thing.

The solution: Charge your phone elsewhere.  Easy to say. Tough to implement. I’m a terrible offender of this. However, when you wake up and start reading, processing, and responding you are literally inviting stress into what should be your most peaceful place, your bed! Again, I know this because…science. Here’s what I recommend and I’m trying my best to do. Put that phone somewhere that requires you to move before you look at it. Better yet, put it in a place that requires you to sweat, like on your treadmill or inside your running shoes by the front door (assuming an outlet is nearby). Then, if you must, read the stuff that you’ve missed when you’re walking or stretching. If nothing else, put it by the coffee pot so at least you’ll be caffeinated before you start dealing with life.

Bad Habit #4: Relying on Take Out More than Once a Week.

The Solution: Meal prep with friends. This solution solves two problems – having nothing to eat during the week and having no time for friends. Pick two Saturdays or Sundays each month and invite a friend or two over to do meal prep. Agree on 7-8 dinners that you’ll prep for the next two work weeks. Keep it simple and clean (buying a bunch of frozen meals doesn’t count!). Grab some wine, and prep together while you catch up on life. A few hours invested in preparing meals are good for your body and the time with a friend is good for your soul.

Your wellness starts on the inside. Stress, lack of sleep, and relentless multitasking will take a toll on your psyche and eventually your body.

Even if you pick one bad habit to change, you are doing something positive for your health. You’re also setting an example for your employees and co-workers and your family. Small steps will lead to a greater state of wellness. And you don’t have to give up that high-achieving, Rockstar status to be healthier. You really can have it all. Just not all at the same time.

Is this resonating? Do you find yourself saying, “hell yes” to all of this? If so, let’s chat. This is just the tip of the iceberg. To truly revolutionize your health and wellness, you need support and accountability. I can help. I’ve been there and know how to get more from your career and life through having a wellness state of mind.

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