A recently retired relative of mine told me that one of the most important lessons she learnt after dedicating more than 25 years to her job, is to enjoy the ride.
“I’ve invested so much time stressing about work and its projects … and I regret not spending time enjoying my job,” she said.
What my relative said resonated deeply with me. I am a perfectionist and I want to see quick results. It’s not without a reason I am nicknamed “Speedy”.
Whenever I and my team handle a new project, I ensure we cover every aspect, and go that extra mile. We always strive to beat the deadline and jump-start our next project. While that’s great, it meant that I was spending more than the required time on a project.
But my situation and that of my relative are not unique. Many entrepreneurs as well as employees find themselves in a similar scenario. An acquaintance of mine once said that she hadn’t taken a vacation in such a long time, and that she would now rest only when she retires. She didn’t know how to turn her mind off work.
My mind, too, was always in management mode, and whenever we were done with a project, I would think of the next. Rarely did I dedicate time to reflect back on the special moments of the day.
Constantly being in management mode eventually resulted in burnout for me. I found myself dreading work, and no longer felt excitement. I asked myself why I hated what I was once passionate about. After giving it careful thought, I knew that my dread had nothing to do with work, but the way I approached it. I didn’t stop and reflect back on the good moments, I never properly took a break to celebrate how far I’d come.
Navigating work through the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t exactly been a nice walk in the park for many of us. Stress levels heightened, and many of us ended up putting more hours into work. It is exactly at such stressful times that we need to allow ourselves time to celebrate, to reflect back on the mini milestones we achieve, and to applaud our colleagues, who are most likely stressed out just like us.
Reflecting back on special moments is as simple as writing a journal. It’s also important to share these moments with your team members.
Whenever we achieve a mini milestone, my colleagues and I would order a simple meal and celebrate by recalling what we enjoyed most about the project. A colleague of mine celebrates her mini milestones by drafting a presentation, including highlights of her journey. “This way, I don’t forget the details,” she says.
Entrepreneurship has been the most satisfying journey for me. But it also comes with baggage. The key is to remind ourselves to enjoy the ride, and to celebrate our mini milestones as well as the big ones, for it is these simple actions that make the journey worthwhile.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi