Making Your Priorities a Priority

With Dr. Susan Biali Haas—Burnout Prevention, Stress Management & Resilience Expert

Earlier this year we launched a Keynote Speaker Series featuring today’s top thought leaders across different categories—Mental Health & Wellness; Marketing, Innovation & Disruption; and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We’ve been chatting with a few of them on the themes of our magazine. This issue we spoke with Burnout Prevention, Stress Management and Resilience Expert, Dr. Susan Biali Haas.

HOW CAN YOU INSPIRE AND MOTIVATE OTHERS?

Taking care of ourselves is absolutely foundational. In order to have reserves of energy to pour into other people and inspire them, we need to have a well to draw from ourselves. A lot of the impact and influence we have on other people comes from modeling. We know from studies in leaders that it’s very inspiring and helpful when we’re authentic. When we share how we’ve faced similar obstacles, how we’re doing in our lives and where we find motivation and inspiration, it can be really impactful in inspiring and motivating others.

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME NEGATIVE THINKING WHEN YOU HAVE SETBACKS?

Purpose is so important. There’s more and more research indicating that having a sense of purpose in what we do, defining it for ourselves and reflecting on it really helps us keep going no matter what comes our way. I’m so deeply passionate about improving mental health and resilience, helping as many people around the world as I can to decrease suffering—that’s what’s kept me going for decades. It never gets old.

HOW DO YOU KEEP A HEALTHY WORK/LIFE BALANCE?

We know from studies that if you work more than 50 hours a week, you gain nothing in productivity. The longer people work, the more they slow down and the less they get done. It’s actually optimal, not just for your wellbeing but for your work performance, to maintain healthy boundaries and protect your personal time as much as you can. Remind yourself that keeping your work compartmentalized to certain times of day or certain chunks of time and protecting your personal life and ability to recharge will actually make your work better. You’ll be much more productive. It’s a win/win to remind yourself of this when you feel guilty for not working all the time.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM BURNOUT?

Something I teach my clients and in my keynotes is that it’s a really good idea to check in with yourself and to take time to reflect and think about your life. Ask yourself questions like what are your top four priorities just for you? Make sure to check in on these regularly. It becomes a lot simpler to make decisions about how you’re going to spend your time and energy when you’ve created a framework, instead of randomly trying to hit all the balls coming at you. Your list of true priorities should only be a few things. If it’s too long, it could end up becoming overwhelming and you’ll be more likely to give up on it. Your priorities can be fun, simple things you enjoy—doesn’t have to be serious—but make sure to commit to them daily if possible.

HOW DO YOU LEARN TO PRIORITIZE THE THINGS THAT MATTER?

Again, the foundational things are so important, like daily exercise and getting enough sleep—the latter is something that I struggle with and must intentionally work at. Nutrition can also play a significant role in your mood and ability to withstand stress. I eat healthy foods that make me feel good and give me mental and physical energy, and I have good work/life boundaries. For example, I aggressively protect my personal time and try not to work into the evening. I make sure to have at least one day on the weekend that’s fully protected for me.

ANY FINAL THOUGHTS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH BROKERS?

Really live life as best as you can, because the way you show up and your success at work is driven by how you’re feeling and how you’re doing in life. As more things open up and there are more opportunities to do things again, commit to doing whatever you can that makes you feel vibrant and alive. If you take good care of yourself with proper nutrition, enough sleep, daily exercise and knowing your priorities, your mental and physical health will be so much better. These valuable parts of our lives really increase our capacity. The more we take care of ourselves and what matters most to us, the higher performing we’ll be.

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VOLUME 21 | ISSUE 6