Would You Work Differently If You Planned to Live to be 100 Years Old?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO
Would you work differently if you planned to live to be 100 years old? Chances are you would. Also, chances are you – and especially today’s young professionals – will need to. A child born in 1914, for example, had a one percent chance of living to 100; a child born in 2014 has a 50 percent chance of living that long. With our growing ability to live longer comes our need to work with an eye toward healthy living – at work and home.
Working at a pace and in a manner that is healthy has become critical. We have many more years to work and live than our parents and grandparents did. It has never been more true that our lives have now become more of a marathon than a sprint. And yet, many leaders behave as if their efforts – and the efforts of those they lead – are a sprint. And, many times, without adequate rest in between the sprints. Have you had days where you were up for an early morning meeting, took no meaningful break during the day, and ended with an evening work event and answering emails late into the night? I know I have – too many such days to keep count. But, is this sustainable? My own experience – and recent research – suggests it is not. And, this is true for a career that ends at 65 years old. Could such behavior sustain a retirement age of 85 or 90? I don’t think so.
So, what kind of work habits are sustainable? This is a critical question for us as leaders. For those of us who have played competitive sports we know that hard work needs to be followed by adequate and renewing rest. This is also true for intense periods of mental effort. Proper rest that rejuvenates is critical. Do we give ourselves this kind of rest? Do others in our organization?
Let’s start with the basics – recovery periods. Sleep is the most basic recovery period. And yet, most people, to include leaders, do not get enough sleep. In fact, we live in a nation of sleep deprived individuals. How much do we need? We all are different – but recommended sleep for adults is 7-8 hours and not less than 6 hours a night of high quality sleep. Do you get this? Do others on your team? Do you talk about the importance of adequate sleep in order to be at your best? I know I did not. Within the last year, I have made it a personal habit to get no less than 6 hours a night and I strive for 7- 8 hours of quality sleep. My smartwatch can actually tell me the quality of my sleep so I monitor it each night to make adjustments and use habits to get the best sleep possible. And, it makes a noticeable difference in the quality of my work and the joy in my life. Being intentional about quality and getting enough sleep is critical to your success and your team’s success. How is the sleep quality in your life and in your organization? Do you know?
Also, other recovery periods are critical. We need rest periods so we can re-engage the next day with our full mental and physical capacity. Again, research shows that we are more engaged and have better outcomes when we take time off and truly rest. Do you and does your team actually leave work at a reasonable time and quit working when they go home?
It’s time, as leaders, to prepare ourselves and our team members for much longer lives of productive and satisfying work. Being intentional about how we do this is critical. Why? So we can plan and live successfully to be 100 years old!