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  • Melissa Sims

The 3 Rs: Rest, Recharge, Reassess

Vacation can’t come soon enough. It’s been a very demanding last few months for us here at Work2Live. It seems to happen every year: we have lulls in activity around the holidays and then a massive influx of decisions, projects, workshops, reports, and planning for the next year to come - all in the last few months of the fiscal year.

I hope you had a chance to attend the Annual Summit, and listen to the wonderful speakers. It was so nice to celebrate the decade long contributors to the program (including Teresa!) and I want to personally say that I am so grateful for each and every one of you. The work you do can often be thankless, but seeing the data, all of the success stories, and testimonials from many thriving families is a great reminder that you matter. You are making a difference in the world! I also thought it was a very timely reminder that we need to check in with where we are now, even if our goals 6-12 months ago were a different picture than the current moment. We need to show up - not just for others, but for ourselves.

You’ve all had a year of intense training and development and it's only natural to feel the weight of burnout and long for that nice reprieve of a vacation - even if it’s staying home. Summer, with its warm days and longer evenings, offers a unique opportunity to step back, recharge, and reassess your priorities. It's a time to take a little break, look inward, reflect on the journey so far, and decide where you want to direct your focus moving forward.

Taking a break doesn't just mean going on vacation; it involves engaging in activities that restore your energy and spirit. Whether it's spending time with family, indulging in hobbies, or simply enjoying quiet moments of reflection, breaks are crucial for your well-being. It’s when we have these moments of peace that our mind becomes more open to new ideas and opportunities.

First, it’s important to be able to recognize burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. In the context of home visiting, this stress is often compounded by the emotional labor involved in supporting families and staff through challenging circumstances. Recognizing the signs of burnout is the first step toward addressing it. These signs can include:

- Chronic fatigue

- Insomnia

- Forgetfulness or concentration difficulties

- Physical symptoms such as headaches or muscle pain

- Increased cynicism or detachment from work

- Reduced performance and productivity

Acknowledging burnout is not a sign of weakness but a testament to the demanding nature of your work. It’s essential to prioritize self-care and give yourself permission to take a break.

Reflecting on Your Journey

Before setting new goals, it's important to reflect on your journey so far. This introspection helps you understand what has worked, what hasn't, and what truly matters to you. Here are some reflective questions to guide you:

- What accomplishments am I proud of from the past year?

- What were the biggest challenges I faced, and how did I overcome them?

- What lessons have I learned about myself and my leadership style?

- How have my values and priorities evolved over the past year?

- What aspects of my work bring me the most joy and fulfillment?

Journaling your thoughts can be a powerful tool for this reflection. Writing down your experiences and insights helps clarify your thoughts and provides a tangible record of your growth.

Reassessing Priorities: Where Do You Want to Focus?

It’s always a good idea to periodically check in with yourself to see where you are, in this current moment. Are your priorities in line with where you wanted to be? This involves identifying what truly matters to you and where you want to focus your energy moving forward. Here are some steps to help you reassess your priorities:

1. Your values are the principles that guide your actions and decisions. Take some time to identify your core values. These might include integrity, compassion, growth, or community. Understanding your values helps you align your goals with what truly matters to you.

2. Based on your core values, set clear and achievable goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For example, if one of your values is growth, a goal might be to attend a professional development workshop by the end of the year.

3. As a leader, it's easy to put the needs of others before your own. However, prioritizing self-care is essential for sustainable leadership. Make a commitment to engage in regular self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature.

4. Setting boundaries is crucial for maintaining balance. This might involve setting limits on work hours, delegating tasks, or saying no to additional responsibilities that don't align with your priorities.

5. Surround yourself with people who support your goals and well-being. This might include mentors, colleagues, friends, or family. A strong support system provides encouragement, accountability, and a sounding board for your ideas.

With your new goals and priorities in mind, it's time to create a plan to stay focused and maintain balance. Here are some tips to help you develop a sustainable plan:

1. Break Down Goals into Actionable Steps: Large goals can feel overwhelming, so break them down into smaller, manageable steps. Create a timeline for each step and set deadlines to keep yourself on track.

2. Schedule Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular check-ins with yourself to assess your progress. This might be a weekly or monthly review where you reflect on what's working, what's not, and make any necessary adjustments.

3. Stay Flexible: Life is unpredictable, and it's important to stay flexible. Be willing to adapt your plan as needed and give yourself grace if things don't go as planned.

4. Celebrate Small Wins: Celebrating small wins along the way helps maintain motivation and reinforces positive behavior. Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small.

5. Seek Professional Development: Continuous learning is key to personal and professional growth. Seek out professional development opportunities that align with your goals, such as workshops, conferences, or online courses.

6. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing, help you stay present and focused. Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine to reduce stress and enhance your overall well-being.

7. Delegate and Collaborate: Recognize that you don't have to do everything on your own. Delegate tasks to your team and collaborate with others to achieve common goals. This not only lightens your load but also fosters a sense of teamwork and shared purpose.

All of this is wonderful advice, but without balance, it isn’t going to do you much good. Maintaining balance is an ongoing process that requires intentionality and effort.

1. Set realistic expectations for yourself and others. Understand that it's okay to not be perfect and that progress is more important than perfection.

2. Cultivating a gratitude practice can help shift your focus from what's lacking to what's abundant in your life. Take time each day to reflect on what you're grateful for.

3. Stay connected with your support system. Regularly check in with friends, family, and colleagues to share your experiences and receive support.

4. Don't forget to make time for fun and enjoyment. Engage in activities that bring you joy and allow you to unwind.

It’s clear that the efforts you are all putting forward are having an enormous impact. The numbers we heard in the Summit were incredible, and I hope you are proud of your work and the crucial role you play in supporting families and communities. Taking the time to recharge, reflect, and reassess your priorities is essential for sustaining your passion and effectiveness in your role. By creating a plan to stay focused on your new goals and maintaining balance, you can continue to lead with purpose and impact.

Remember, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity. Embrace the summer as a time for renewal and set the stage for a fulfilling and balanced year ahead. Your well-being is the foundation of your ability to lead and make a difference in the lives of those you serve. Well done!


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