One of the challenges for everyone in a business leadership role is that the ‘busyness of every day’ is continually eroding the foundations of what’s important in our world. The expectations of what can and should be accomplished in a day has grown dramatically over the past 30 years. We have amazing high-tech tools at our fingertips to enable us, but the constant increase in pace affects us more than we want to admit. Unless we have strategies in place to manage our energy, often the tank is close to empty when we head home from work.

What are the important things?

For me, it’s primarily my relationships with my family and inner circle, and my relationship with myself.

  • Family and inner circle: making time to consistently nurture key relationships – partner, children, parents as they age, wider family and friends.
  • Relationship with myself: making time to work on my physical health, and my emotional and mental health; time out to just ‘be’, replenish, relax and reflect.
  • Other important things: time to work on my business, not just in it, and having clarity around direction and plans; devising wealth creation strategies so my family is as secure as possible for the future; and my own personal, non-work-related growth and development.

Most business leaders I know are juggling their time and energy and are focused on being successful in their work and doing their best to look after the important things in their personal life. The juggle is arguably at its most challenging for business leaders in their 40s and 50s. This is usually when the demands at home and the demands at work are at their peak.

What are the essential things?

The ‘busyness of everyday’ creates an environment in which we see the ‘erosion of the important’ and the ‘absence of the essential’. There is another level of life to consider if we want to create a fulfilled life. These are what I call the essential things.

Essential things include:

  • Building and maintaining a strong connection to purpose – understanding what my purpose is, and how my work is connected to that purpose. Some senior executives become bored and even depressed when their very busy work life feels like it has little to do with a personal sense of meaning.
  • Making a positive difference – not just making money.
  • Building a stronger sense of self and being more secure in my identity. Knowing my core values, knowing who I am and what I will not compromise on.
  • Building and re-building my self-respect and self-acceptance, through all the turmoil of a business week. This contributes to my inner security and is the foundation for my confidence.

The danger for many busy leaders who ignore the essential things is something that happens over time; insecurities grow and cause problems for people around them and for their companies. Perspective is increasingly difficult to attain or maintain, which leads to poor decisions, disgruntled teams, and unhealthy business cultures.

What can be done:

If you are busy or restless and find yourself striving after something that’s not necessarily adding up to the life that you want to live, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Make time for a ‘whole of life’ audit. After 20 years working in your career or business it is time to work on you again. Rediscover who you are in your 40s or 50s and do the work to re-align yourself to what you find. This will usually involve working with a mentor who is skilled in helping you better understand yourself.
  2. Determine who and what is important in your world and learn how to create healthy boundaries to protect those people and things.
  3. Understand your own personal needs and put some longer-term structures in place in your calendar to ensure you have time to regularly disengage from work and meet those needs.
  4. Learn to do things that replenish you physically, emotionally and at a level of meaning and purpose.

Left unattended, these issues can harm your health and relationships. Even worse, they can lead to depression and a loss of meaning and purpose. As someone who went through a painful burnout experience 12 years ago, I advise you to make the time to do what you can do to ensure you are not too busy for the important and essential things in your life.