We live in a world where hustle culture is the millennial working philosophy; the traditional means to succeed is to work hard, be the first one in the office, and the last to leave. We have to hustle, hustle, hustle, grind, grind, grind if we’re going to make it in this highly competitive world. Oh, and I forgot to mention that on top of this, you also need to have a “side hustle” to really diminish that work to wellness ratio a bit further.
Even when we leave the office, in the knowledge economy, we’re never really leaving our work—we’re thinking about work when we’re with our families, we’re finishing up that proposal while trying to unwind and watching the latest episode of Love is Blind, and the Sunday scaries come around like clockwork each week. Stress at work can cause us to not be fully present in what really matters; with the people we care about most. We think that this is the price we need to pay in order to succeed and live subsequently happy lives. We work from a place of exhaustion and burnout rather than from enthusiasm and energy.
In leadership and vitality expert Sara Ross’ new book, Dear Work: Something Has to Change, she provides the reader with the toolkit to shift the way we approach and perceive our work, highlighting how we can succeed from “a greater sense of aliveness,” devoid of stress-induced burnout and dissatisfaction. While we all have roles and responsibilities in life, life is fundamentally to be enjoyed. When it comes to work, which accounts for a large portion of our days, we need to be cognizant of the ways it affects our energy— ensuring that threshold isn’t crossed where it’s occupying every thought, feeling and moment throughout our days.
In Dear Work, leadership expert Sara Ross uses the latest research on brain science combined with practical anecdotes to help you:
- Understand the difference between working from the “survival zone” which is “predicated on exhaustion, disillusionment, and sacrifice-based trade-offs,” and the “standout zone”: infusing a sense of aliveness into our projects, people we work with and other pursuits outside of work.
- Discover, what Ross calls the “success traps” that lure us into the aforementioned hustle and burnout culture, but in reality as Ross writes, “[lure] you into thinking you’re doing what it takes when really what you’re doing is taking from you.”
- Approach stress with a “yes, and” mindset. The premise of this is to not eliminate stress, but rather, realize that yes, stress can have deleterious consequences if left unchecked, but stress can ironically also be good for us. Ross writes, “The ‘and’ broadens that perspective to include the evidence-backed data that shows stress can also create psychological thriving and be life-enhancing, helping us to achieve goals, create a meaningful life, and be our best, healthiest and most resilient selves.”
How to actually practice self-care during periods of rest and how moving in different directions can actually be beneficial.
As someone who’s been self-employed for 7 years now, the lines between work and leisure are constantly blurred and the discipline to make myself take guilt-free time-off has been a struggle. Dear Work gave me the “okay”— a permission slip if you will, to take real time away from work to devote to other areas of my life that recharge and re-energize me so that I can bring my best self to my work.
Structure & Style
Dear Work is broken down into four parts. Part I breaks down the vitality quotient–what it is, why it’s important, and how we can measure our own vitality using KVI’s (key vitality indicators).
In Part II, Ross moves into how we can reposition how we think about success–she defines the aforementioned “success traps,” and how we can attain performance outcomes from a place of energy and enthusiasm vs. burnout and overwhelment. As Ross writes, “[Exhaustion] and excellence are not mutually exclusive.”
In Part III, Ross covers stress; how to reframe your perception of stress, introducing the “yes, and” mindset on transcending stress from a negative to positive (and no, you won’t find any toxic positivity in this section), and how to minimize stress so we can flourish in and outside of the workplace.
In the last Part IV, Ross moves into practical steps to maximize our energy. Recharging is more than getting a massage and taking a bubble bath with our favorite essential oils (although, that can be relaxing as hell), but using what she calls the CARE index as a new guide to self-care. In fact, Ross calls CARE as self-care 2.0, which includes: connection, activation, restoration, and exploration.
Whatever type of employment you’re engaged in, Dear Work has something for you. It’s a timely book and a great reminder to protect our most valuable resource: our energy, time, and health.
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