In a recent New York Times article, Elon Musk shares that the past year has been one of the most excruciating of his career. How could someone who seemingly is at the top of his game get so worn out? How does anyone get to the point in their career where they appear to be successful on the outside but inside are exhausted, unhealthy and living in an extremely unbalanced way?
Taking care of ourselves while we are working is not something we've been taught, which makes de-prioritizing how you feel an easy thing to do. The reality is that when it comes to having the kind of success most of us would say we want it involves having a good balance of personal and professional experiences. Here are some key steps to ensure that you're managing yourself more closely than Elon:
1. Track your sleep
Between apps and watches that monitor sleep, it's never been easier to commit to this practice. This simple habit can provide massive insight into how much you're sleeping, how well you are sleeping and illuminating the cause for exhaustion. Having daily data can help you make course corrections before you become chronically fatigued, as well as knowing when to seek help before you end up on the floor like Ariana Huffington did.
2. Pay attention to your stress levels
We are all stressed. Some of us even thrive on it a little bit. But too much and you set yourself up for more disease, as well as being in a chronic state of flight or flight - which doesn't allow you to do your best thinking. You may think this doesn't happen often, but if you pay more attention to how often you feel highly stressed you may begin to notice a problem sooner and avoid having a full blown panic attack out of the blue.
3. Create a vision for your career and life
This may sound simple but having a vision is important to make regular assessments on how you're operating and if it's supporting your long term vision. Ask yourself regularly, do your work habits support your desire to be a great parent? Does working 80 hours a week support your vision of being healthy? Does doing more work than anyone else in the company support your desire to be a great leader?
4. Say No
We live in a culture obsessed with saying yes. We think the more we do the better we are. Science is helping us realize that this is a failing strategy. For example, according to a study published by John Pencavel of Stanford University the more hours you work does not necessarily equate to better quality work. In fact, the more you work the less quality work you produce. Practice prioritizing your work and saying no to things that are low priority, or find ways to delegate it to others. Just this one practice can help you avoid getting to the end of your rope.