Every year I choose a word that represents how I’d like to work and be for the year. This year, I chose BOLD because I realised I hadn’t been bold enough in the past. I asked those on my contact list what words they would choose for themselves and got some great responses including words such as inspire, arete (An ancient Greek concept basically meaning “excellence”), brave, focused, unfettered, bond, create, planned, courage and strength. All of these are great representations of true leadership qualities and that got me thinking about the importance of words and how that relates to mental health goals in leadership.
Starting off with good intentions
A new year is the perfect opportunity to start fresh and set some exciting goals for you and your team. After a Christmas break, you are probably feeling refreshed and excited about all the amazing things you plan to achieve this year.
BUT… What happens when the going gets tough, as it inevitably will at times, and you find yourself less refreshed and excited? Are you prone to negative self-talk, stress, anxiety, overeating, or other unresourceful behaviours?
Most of us perhaps don’t think about setting mental health goals in leadership to go along with performance and achievement related ones. But what if we did?
Your brains are ‘wired’ to behave in certain ways and to be different you must do what you have not done, in other words, change the ‘wiring’ of your neural pathways.
If you’d like to start off with some good mental health intentions, check out my wellness check to help identify where you may need to focus your attention.
The benefits of setting Mental Health Goals in Leadership
There are a multitude of benefits from setting mental health goals in leadership, not only for yourself but also your team.
If you choose to set mental health goals this year and stick to them, here are some of the benefits you may reap:
Reduced absenteeism and staff turnover
Team members who look after their mental health tend to take less sick days and find greater happiness in their job, reducing the likelihood that they will look elsewhere for work.
Improved decision making
When you look after your physical and mental health, you are well equipped to make better decisions and identify opportunities.
Higher employee engagement
Employees that feel their mental health is valued and their needs are supported by those in leadership roles, are much more engaged and committed to their work.
Increased creativity and innovation
Positive mental health provides space for creativity and innovation. When you are tired, foggy, or operating in a negative state, creative ideas do not flow well.
When you experience positive mental health, you are more focused, motivated, and productive and so will your team.
Improved team dynamics and organisation culture
A team that has open discussions around mental health is much more likely to foster trust, empathy, and stronger connections between team members which in turn creates a positive working environment for all. Developing a culture of understanding, inclusivity, and support will help you to attract and retain the best people.
What are some examples of mental health goals in leadership?
There are so many different goals you can incorporate in your business that will promote positive mental health for yourself and your team. Some ideas you may wish to explore include:
- Taking a lunch break away from your desk every day regardless of how busy you are – lead by example.
- Ensuring that days off work are exactly that – days off.
- Reducing distractions.
- Setting aside time each week to plan the week ahead.
- Create a personal development plan that includes mental health.
- Engage a speaker to talk to your team about aspects of mental health.
- Encourage physical activity in the workplace.
- Recognise and reward positive mental health practices in the workplace.
- Host a healthy shared lunch once a month or more.
- Encourage work-life balance among the team.
- Provide a quiet space for meditation or reflection.
- Celebrate little wins as a team.
There are so many more ways you can incorporate mental health into your goals but hopefully this will give you some food for thought. If you need some more inspiration, I recommend taking my Wellness Check as that will help you to highlight areas that may need attention for your own wellbeing.
The importance of words
The words you choose when setting your mental health goals in leadership are important to consider. When we experience the world around us via our five senses, our brain is exposed to between 2 million and 18 million bits per second! That’s an awful lot of information when we can only physically process up to 126 bits per second.
This means that your brain must delete, distort, and generalise the information to ensure it is taking on the right information for you and categorising it accordingly.
How does it do that?
It does so based on your values, decisions, thoughts, words, memories, and more and then creates an internal representation which it stores away for you to recall later. It does all of this at an unconscious level.
That’s why when you are considering buying a particular model of car, then you see that car everywhere! Your brain has registered that the model of car is important to you and so it makes that information a priority. There isn’t suddenly 10 times more of that car on the road, it’s just that you are now noticing them when you weren’t before.
How is this relevant?
When setting mental health goals with your team, it’s important to recognise that words don’t have the same internal representation for everyone.
Take the word “discipline” as an example. For some, discipline is a good thing – it’s what helps them get things done and they embrace it. For others, discipline has a negative connotation – it’s something to be avoided at all costs.
So, if you want your team to buy in to the goals you are setting together and pull together to achieve them, you may want to ask each of them what the words you’ve chosen mean to them.
I hope this has inspired you to factor mental health into your goal setting this year.
If you’ve got a word for 2024, I’d love to hear it.
Wishing you a prosperous, successful and mentally well New Year.