Burning the Candle at Both Ends

I am sure by now you’ve heard that Black Friday, a US phenomenon that’s usually celebrated the Friday following Thanksgiving Day is being pushed forward by one week. This forward push is being initiated by Amazon.com which is aggressively offering huge discounts and sales on their online products in the hope they can cash in on the upcoming Christmas shopping season. The frenzy will certainly be quickly followed by the major brick and mortar retail stores who will have to scramble to catch up.

As a vendor, while Amazon might be rattling the traditionalist retailers, they simply want to get ahead of the game. They want to get in front of potential shoppers at every opportunity. They want to offer something unique and they aren’t abiding by any old fashioned rule, they are making their own! They are taking risks and creating their own path. However, at the same time, this entire retail “revolution” is creating quite the frenzy.

But speaking of frenzy, many executives are living a frenzied lifestyle every day! They are working long hours to finalize their growth opportunities and monitoring what’s happening in their workforce. They experience unrelenting pressure to ensure their organization keeps up with the pace of innovation in their industry. And, they constantly monitor and worry about the availability of key skills needed to fulfill their future goals and objectives.

Then again, most executives are also heavily involved in contributing back to their community or professional association through volunteer leadership and committee work. And finally, these executives are struggling to find time to keep their family intact, attend children’s activities and spend quality time with their spouse. 

Just what is the result of all this so called, “burning the candle at both ends?” the only answer is stress, stress, stress and more stress! And, since most executives I am familiar with put off dealing with their stress to another time in their schedule and/or they decide to wait for things to slow down; it never gets dealt with. Finally, if an individual isn’t careful, they’ll experience burnout! And at that point, there may be no turning back as exhaustion and personal health issues will take over.

So if getting off the fast paced treadmill lifestyle isn’t a workable answer to managing one’s life, what can you do? Hopefully, the following tips will help you out.

  1. Recognize the signs – you may feel emotionally drained at work and so experience an increase in interpersonal conflict, feelings of hostility and/or fatigue. You may be losing your positive attitude and feel frustrated and angry at the world. You are not as productive and may feel cynical and disillusioned about those great plans you had created earlier in the business cycle. You begin to question your job, feel emotionally unstable and/or begin to experience health problems.
  2. Rework your “to-do” list – review your list and rethink how you can delegate your work. Keep in mind that delegation is really professional development for your staff. Review the deadlines you have set for yourself, establish reasonable deadlines and extra time for your projects especially when you delegate and have more people involved.
  3. Make the word “NO” part of your vocabulary – while you might be interested in a project, keep a close eye on your time availability; taking on too much is a kiss of death. Always consult your current projects, the deadlines, the resources and the need for your time.  Remember, you can’t do it all. Learn to please yourself instead of everyone else.
  4. Do something for yourself – develop strategies for dealing with your stress and be sure to include a special activity for yourself, something that creates vitality and lifts your spirits. This could be a weekly game of golf, hockey or bridge, taking time to read a novel, coaching a children’s sport, singing in a choir or going to swimming lessons…..just anything that is just for you and where you can relax and enjoy yourself.

Burning the candle at both ends is often the name of the game for executives. But if you don’t look after yourself, who will?

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