I wrote recently about the power of connection. In an ironic twist, today my internet connection died – predictably at a supremely inconvenient moment. This created a farcical ‘signal quest’ as I frantically ran like an addict from café to café, “do you have wi-fi, do you have wi-fi?” Finally somewhere did. Message sent. Mission accomplished. Celebratory cappuccino consumed! But still I found myself mentally exhausted.

As a solopreneur, the load can be heavy. I returned to my home office and spoke to the Head of IT. That would be me! I’m also head of Finance, Marketing, Strategy, Sales, Delivery, Research, Operations, Fleet, Stationery and Pets. That’s a lot for one person.

Executive overwhelm is everywhere

This overwhelm is not confined solely to the solos. Increasingly, I find my executive mentoring clients are looking for help to balance their professional and private lives. They find themselves trapped in a world of busyness. At work they can become stressed and unproductive. They stay back late to catch up. Once home, tired and distracted, they’re not really present. Relationships suffer, stress increases and the cycle is reinforced. Fallout in terms of marriage breakdown, job loss, mental health issues and addictions are all increasing.

I don’t have a flip solution to this. I do believe many of us have got things out of whack.

The drivers are many. We want to contribute, to succeed, to provide. We love to learn and grow, to create teams, projects, products and businesses that we can be proud of. Less attractively, ambition, fear, ego and greed can all contribute.

In the pressure cooker of the modern world, perhaps we’ve simply stopped making the time to listen and think. Consequently, we’ve lost site of what’s really important.

Thinking time

What we can do is to pause and reflect. Some questions I find helpful are:

Am I happy?

Am I living the life I want?

Am I spending time with the people who matter to me?

What does success look like for me and am I achieving it?

Am I making the difference I was born to make?

What can I stop doing to create more time?

Follow your heart

I don’t believe that any of this means we have to give up our ambitions or our big jobs. But we do need to think carefully about who and what’s really important and allocate our time, care and attention accordingly.

When we follow our hearts, the answers are pretty clear. We just need to get out of our own way to make sure we are not winning in one area only to find we’ve lost where it really counts.

Mark

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