Here we are, yet again.
2021 is upon us and all the New Year’s habit heroes have awoken from their slumber.
Goals. Habits. Resolutions.
Do I set one? Do I start one? Do I make one? How?
Questions that you and almost every other person on earth is semi-considering but not sure if it’s even worth pursuing.
Don’t get me wrong. Jumping on the self-improvement bandwagon is noble.
But, just like so many of you, I want it to mean more than a few weeks of hype. I want it to stick.
That’s how I stumbled on something called Executive Functioning.
You’re young (maybe you’re old). You’re working at one of the coolest, hippest, most innovative and inspiring companies out there.
You worked hard to get here, you “hustled.” Nothing wrong with that.
However, you’re not invincible. You start to plateau and you tell yourself it’s nothing a coffee, and 10mg of Adderall can’t handle.
Except for it can’t.
And then a pandemic happens.
You start spending less time with others. Work was a lot before but then it decided to move in and now it’s consuming you. You don’t go on runs or hit the gym like you used to. You keep telling yourself, “It’s a phase.”
Just like that, you go from Mr. Dependable to Mr. So-so (same goes for all the Ms.’s out there).
Pause. Does this sound too extreme?
Okay, so maybe your life isn’t unraveling itself before your eyes. But if you’re one of the 85% of employees who hates their job, things could definitely be better.
How though? Well, short of switching companies or even careers, you may want to re-assess your relationship with work.
If you’re most people, you’ve never heard of this. In Harvard terms,
Executive functioning and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.
In HUMANS terms,
These are skills that help us manage time, handle tasks, and avoid burnout. There happens to be 7 of them:
Ideally, you should have learned the groundwork for these skills as you grew up. However, as you age and take on more responsibility, you need to refresh your understanding and method of attack for each of them.
Believe it or not, mastering the 7 executive functioning skills will put you on the fast-track for leadership, big raises, better projects, and way less stress in the process. At the very least, you won’t hate your job nearly as much and you’ll become a way healthier person in the process.
You see, the better you manage your sh*t, the more you can get done. And we all know it’s not about maximizing efficiency anymore.
So today, I’ll tell you about one that most everyone could benefit from.
In our world, information is getting thrown at us faster than ever before. We need to be nimble on our feet, flexible, adaptable, and responsive — without burning out or turning into the office grouch.
Becoming a conscious practitioner of executive functioning will ensure you have the work-life balance you want, you won’t need to live for the weekend or the bottle, and you can cancel your next prescription of Adderall.
This is especially true if you are the type of person who likes to know what they are working on, what the plan is, and what expectations look like at all times?
See, humans, much like your home Wi-Fi, have a limited bandwidth. We also refer to this as someone’s processing ability. Some people can process loads of information without feeling overwhelmed or getting stuck. On the other hand, some people are not so adaptable to change.
Those who possess or have honed excellent cognitive flexibility respond well to crises, aren’t prone to freezing in the face of surprises, and adapt well to new situations. Basically, you are more resilient to stress than the next person.
Here’s the great news, just like a muscle, you can get better at adaptable thinking with a bit of practice. Let me suggest 3 tips for improving your flexibility and then I’ll give you a super practical resource to learn about some more.
I call it the getting ready for crisis journal. If you’re the kind of person that is not overly fond of changes or surprises, take a few minutes and write out how you would respond to any potential conflicts that may arise AND how you would respond to them.
This practice will help you address potential hurdles and create solutions for them while you are mindfully aware and not actively facing distress. It’s also a great way to improve willpower and stress resilience.
If you’re someone who feels stuck either with yourself or your work, taking a long hard look at your routines can be a great place to start. Do you even have any daily or weekly routines? If not, there can be a truly grounding effect in starting some.
Do any current routines undermine some of the other healthy habits you are practicing, or attempting to? Are you drinking at night, therefore affecting your sleep and quality of rest? In turn, making it harder for you to eat healthy or exercise? Just some things to think about.
If you are a particularly rigid person, aka the office tight wad, it may be time for you to take a rest-day from your routines and unwind. This can be another way of strengthening your adaptability and stress resilience.
Setting a time limit to accomplish certain tasks may be important for you. Not because you suck at it, but you do. Operating on a deadline will help with your focus and execution of tasks by arranging them by priority. This way, you’ll actually get sh*t done instead of just chipping away at a million different things.
Here’s the kicker. Before transitioning to the next task, take some time to unload your mind and write down any remaining thoughts you have regarding task #1. After you finish putting all your thoughts down on paper, take a second to decompress and prepare for the next task.
Taking 5–10 minutes is not going to hurt you, I promise. However, it may keep you from burning out before the day has even started.
Before you set all sorts of goals this New Year, take an inventory of your people’s relationship with executive functioning, it’ll be worth it.
The LEON Team