We just need self-care.
We’re nearly at the end of the year; we’ve survived No-Sleep-November and have arrived at Finally-December. What a year it’s been: Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames. Prince Harry and Rachel from Suits ate koesisters (not koeksisters) in Cape Town and perhaps the weirdest of all – Billy Ray Cyrus had a no.1 hit hip-hop song.
This last stretch is often a challenging time in the working world. Until we get to Happy New Year, we have to survive Snappy New Year. Because everyone is tired and frustrated, they have less patience with their colleagues, bosses and employees. And with little motivation and energy, everything takes longer and feels more difficult. Squabbles over whether it’s acceptable to heat Broccoli in the office microwave turn into full scale battles. Change Managers: Forget stand up meetings, it’s more like collapse and cry meetings.
Change Managers aren’t immune to end-of-year exhaustion. The challenge for us is that we need to push through our own work, which is to motivate others to do their work. That means taking on the frustrations of project teams, stakeholders and end users and doing our best to prevent them from stalling projects. It’s the nature of the job and it can be exhausting. For this reason, December is an important month for self-care. Without taking the time to focus on ourselves, we run the risk of entering the New Year with a negative mindset.
Self-help gurus with many years of experience in Pinterest motivational quotes will give you the usual advice: Do yoga. Meditate. Stop to smell the roses (sure, but first show us where the roses are on the N3 in peak hour traffic). Appreciate the small things (credit cards are small things too but no one wants to dwell on those). It’s advice that has its place – and yoga, meditation and exercise are important for the wellbeing of our heads, hearts and happiness, but we’re change managers, we want an executable strategy. Start with these three steps:
No one understands the emotional side of change management like other change managers. Meeting up with colleagues who have the same challenges can be an essential sanity check. We absorb the energies of the environments we work in and it has to go somewhere. A bottle of wine and a venting session with other change managers is a good place to start.
Channel your inner performer
Performance artists have strategies for calming nerves before they perform. Creating a physical quiet space to do this is first prize, but seldom possible backstage. So they do the next best thing: They create a ‘white space’ in their minds. It works like meditation: Find your white space by acknowledging your thoughts but allowing them to pass without attaching yourself to them. Eventually they’ll stop and you’ll have entered a quiet, white space in your mind. It takes practise, but 5 minutes in your white space can calm anxiety, reduce immediate stress and allow you to regain your balance.
Change manage your changes
During November and December, you’ll spend a lot of time looking back on the year. It’s sometimes easier to see the negatives. To counter this, Pinterest says you need to focus on the positive. It’s a good tactic. But when it comes to self-care, you need to take positivity one step further by turning it into a strategic starting point.
There are some questions that will make sure you’re taking care of the 2020 you. Instead of focusing on what happened in the year, focus on the things you felt this year.
- What made you feel excited?
- What / who inspired you?
- What brought you genuine joy?
And on the flipside:
- What drained you?
- What unbalanced you?
These are self-care questions that you can come back to throughout the year. But as you enter 2020, they can form the basis of a forward-thinking strategy of self-care. As those Oprah inspired Pinterest psychologists would say: Be proactive not reactive. Taking care of yourself means looking back to move forward. If all else fails and you’re finding it difficult to practise self-care, remember that Billy Ray Cyrus now wears a pink cowboy hat.