When I began my current role, I knew I would have the opportunity to share with others what I’ve learned in my lifetime.  Primarily it has been my desire to help Project Managers and Assistants understand their jobs and how to collaborate with others, in order to ward off burnout.  Unfortunately, I didn’t understand at the time that I wasn’t including myself in this.  Personally, I’d experienced burnout more than once.  I, like Steve, didn’t really understand what was happening and just kept trying to get caught up.  It was a vicious cycle and I did not even remotely consider that my wellness mattered.  This approach wasn’t good at all for my employees, my family, and most importantly, me.   

After a lot of conversations with people I trust, and some soul searching I learned that for some reason, I couldn’t give myself permission to put my wellness first.  I saw burnout in others and was very compelled to encourage health and well-being for them.  But, I couldn’t recognize it in myself.  Thankfully, others did and at one point I couldn’t ignore the truth. 

What gets me excited about now is that we are talking openly about burnout, wellness, and mental health.

Webster’s definition of wellness: “the quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal”.  As with anything else that lasts, we have to seek wellness actively.  Believe me, I’m still a work in progress.  But, now I understand that as a leader, I need to be a good example.  I’ve benefitted greatly by having honest and open communication with our AbilityOne Team.  We are working hard to hold each other accountable for the work of “being well”.   

I’m learning what works for me and taking charge of my health and losing weight was the first step.  Then, I started finding weeks where I gave myself permission to take a long weekend.  I literally had to “learn” how to unplug and refresh and it’s made a huge difference.  A bonus in this journey is I have built a trusting relationship with a co-worker who knew some things about wellness better than me.  That person recommended massage to me and now I’m also absolutely addicted to therapeutic massages!!!  Now I highly recommend them.  As I said, I’m a work in progress and at times I still take a couple of steps back instead of forward.  But, I can at least say that I recover more quickly in each of those cases. 

If you see yourself in these words, I hope you’ll be kind to yourself and begin the journey to “actively seek wellness”.  You’re worth it!!