Tereza Urbánková: Get the New Year off to a good start

| March 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

tereza-urbankovaResolutions, work-life balance and quest for perfection

As the New Year is getting into full swing, many people are still contemplating what is in store for all of us over the next 12 months. Typically, some of us start the year with big New Year’s resolutions. In six months (or earlier) more than half of us will have given up on our aspirations and fallen back on old habits. It’s clear that enthusiasm and willpower are limited resources, and hope doesn’t get us very far; in addition, we are simply not perfect and easily succumb to temptation, vice or the path of least resistance. That’s reality.

With the New Year unfolding, it is also natural for people to be looking for a new challenge or a change of career – this tends to be a time of reassessment for both employees and for company leaders. I find beneficial to pause and reflect on the previous year and re-evaluate priorities and goals while looking at what went well and what needs improving going forward.

We live in a world of a constant change. Technology is moving forward at a breakneck pace and the world of communication, which I am very much involved in, is changing just as fast. I still remember the good old days in Prague many years ago when all marketing collateral was in print and computers were for writing brochures and press releases. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, where I worked in the Diplomatic Protocol, we used to have just one computer that could send mail electronically (only one person had the knowledge and particularly privilege to execute this task), using a very screechy modem; we were all petrified it was going to collapse any minute. These days are long gone and when I sometimes reminisce about them, my 15-year old son usually gives me ‘that look’ which indicates I am from a different planet.

This digital age has impacted the way we behave, interact, shop, work and play. One of the most typical ‘signs of the times’ is that many people are not able to draw the line between life and work. The world is so plugged in that we can supposedly enjoy leisure time but have the constant distraction of work email, which prevents us from truly switching off. We tend to forget that technology is here to serve us, not vice versa. In this fast-paced environment, the level of hyper-awareness is high and the potential for burnout is huge; therefore, to find the right work-life balance is so crucial. The good news is that some of us are beginning to make steps to change that as I heard on the radio the other day: how does a ban on mobiles/smart phones in a bedroom sound to you?

Now, there are many companies all over the world trying to provide work-life balance as well as global initiatives that strive to tackle the same issue. One of them is ‘Third Metric’, coined by Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief and founder of Huffington Post. Third Metric was launched with the objective to redefine success beyond the first two metrics, money and power, to include well-being, wisdom and our ability to give back. This initiative is for everybody as the destructive definition of success we are living under affects people at every social and economic level.

The US is embracing this concept as 35 percent of large American corporations allegedly offer some kind of stress-reduction programme for employees. Since the problem is universal and transcends geographic boundaries, the rest of the world seems to be slowly buying into the idea as well: when global leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland in January for the World Economic Forum, ‘Health and Wealth’ was one of the sessions, moderated by Arianna Huffington. It’s great to see support on such political and business level; however, this will work only if organisations and individuals make it real.

New Year, new (or perfect?) you

As we have stepped into the New Year, full of hopes, aspirations and determination to become better, leaner and wiser, we should realise that small changes, perhaps in our work-life balance or elsewhere, may be the most sustainable; these can make a huge difference. Yet, many of us go to extremes, setting unreasonable objectives, striving for the Holy Grail, for perfection.

Perfection is subjective. To some it may be related to their career, relationship, finances or appearance, and to others, it may involve their moral character. But the thread that connects us all is the idea that we are never perfect enough.

Picture this:

An immaculate home. A toned body. Wrinkle-free skin. Straight, white teeth. A certain amount of calories per day. The ‘right’ number on the scale. The perfect job. The ‘right’ number of children. Fast-growing career. Eating healthily. Being available for everyone at all times. Completing every task on your to-do list.

Does it sound familiar? Is this the idea of perfection that we all strive for?

If it is, what are we achieving? In some ways we are actually creating a loss of freedom; we have less time and make more excuses for why we are unable to reach certain goals or enjoy life at all. So I propose – instead of writing big New Year’s resolutions, think about your choices as small pieces of a big puzzle. No single decision you make about your eating, physical activity, or anything else you want to improve will determine the outcome, but altogether, they create a big picture of ‘better you’.

And now, let’s put theory into practice. Today, I encourage you to forget the big goals and pressure of the outside world – just to celebrate the beginning of a new promising year. Stop counting calories. Invite friends into your home. Cook for others and enjoy the meal. Hug a loved one. Look in the mirror and smile. Sit at your desk and feel proud. Drop your phone and connect to others face to face. Recognise how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved. Or, as my very dear and close friend says: “take the time to smell the roses” which contains all the above and more (although he has not been able to fully accomplish that yet but has been working on it, which counts as much).

Simply, accept yourself today and embrace 2014 and the future with an open mind – because being imperfect makes you human. And celebrate the small achievements which will ultimately contribute to a big part of your happiness and success.

By Tereza Urbánková

Tags: , ,

Category: CONTRIBUTORS, Tereza Urbánková

Comments (0)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.

Leave a Reply