Every January, there’s a cascade of articles on New Year’s resolutions for the next 12 months (we’re also guilty of this). But the first 31 days of the year seem to generate a striking consensus: we need to take care of ourselves and others. Indeed, the word goodwill is surely all too familiar to you—it’s on everyone’s lips—so we’ll try to avoid it here and spare you the clichés. Let’s see our prescription for wellbeing.

Prescription for wellbeing

The metaphor of the oxygen mask on the plane

Anyone who’s taken a plane is familiar with the cabin crew going through the motions of showing the oxygen mask dropping from above your seat and reminding you of the importance of placing your own mask before helping others. It’s actually something worth pondering. Do we apply the same principle in our organizations? Do we take a moment for ourselves before kicking into action? Do we allow ourselves to have doubts, to have concerns, and to “digest the news” before informing the team of a decision that will impact everyone. 

You see, taking care of yourself is not at the expense of others! Let’s be clear: we’re not making a pitch for individualism. But we’re giving you permission to be vulnerable so that you can come out stronger and provide leadership that stands out for its authenticity. And it’s a way of making a contribution without falling into the trap of toxic positivity.

Slowing it down… from 110 to 85 km/h

It’s not so much the speed that needs to be reduced, but the intensity. A recent article noted that when we’re running at 110%, we’re giving it everything we have, and only thinking about one thing: how to give more, and give faster. But when we’re running at 85%, we’re giving ourselves a chance to observe what’s going on with ourselves and with others, to put more effort where it’s needed, and to adapt to the unexpected. In other words, at 85%, we have time to think, which we can’t do when we’re running at 110%.

Once again, let’s be clear. We’re not saying lower the bar. We’re saying you don’t always need to pull out all the stops—sometimes it’s not necessary or even productive. Sometimes, it’s better to keep your batteries fully charged rather than giving it your all in one fell swoop and being completely drained. As is so often the case, it’s a question of finding the right dose, the right balance.

Take a peek at what the neighbours are up to

We’re not suggesting you leap over their fence! Just take a peek over the top to see if their grass is greener. Maybe it is! What we’re trying to say is that sometimes focussing too much on what you’re doing can lead you to think that you’re on the only possible path. But your neighbours, other organizations, may have ideas that could inspire you and help you take better care of the people around you. So don’t hesitate to seek out information from others and find out what they’re doing to promote people’s wellbeing. Keep in mind that while there are lots of people just back from vacation and feeling rejuvenated, there’re plenty of others who’re already counting the days before their next break from it all. And that’s something you need be attentive to.

One last thing: ensuring the wellbeing of your professional talent doesn’t mean simply offering them a webinar on mental health. Concern for their wellbeing needs to be part and parcel of your organization’s culture, and take the form of concrete and consistent gestures. In other words, it’s important to walk the talk.

We’re not heart surgeons

What we’re about to say applies to everyone—except heart surgeons. Sometimes it’s a good idea to hit the pause button and remember that we’re not performing life-saving surgery. It’s totally normal that sometimes things take a little longer to get done, and sometimes we make mistakes. And you know what? Managers make mistakes too, even if we tend to assume that everything they say, think, produce, decide needs to be perfect.

We focussed on this article because it illustrates in a very straightforward way what we think. Goodwill is not a one-way street! Let’s be clear: your boss doesn’t need your pity. But they sometimes need you to give them a break and take a deep breath. Or to recognize that they don’t always have a solution to your problem right there and then, and that’s OK! Even your boss can make a mistake.

Our prescription for wellbeing

If we were to summarize all of this in a prescription for the next 11 months, we’d recommend the following on a daily basis. A good dose of:

  • Goodwill (Oops, we ended up using the word after all. Sorry!)
  • Balance
  • Inspiration
  • Indulgence

To be taken before, during and after meals.
If, like us, you forget to take a dose once in a while, don’t wait for the next one.
Unlimited renewals.

And if you need help and support, always remember there are resources out there. You can also check out our article in French on how to promote mental health in your organization.

And you, what is your prescription for wellbeing? Share your best practices with us by sharing this article on social networks.

A special shout out to #LesOutilsDuJeudi of the Fondation J. Armand Bombardier, which inspired us to write this article.

This article was 100% written by humans. (Like everyone else, we’re exploring ChatGPT, but we still like to flex our brains and push our thinking.)