Have you ever heard of the phrase “stop to smell the roses”? To me, this phrase means to just stop for a while and appreciate life. There are so many beautiful things around us that it can be beneficial to pause for a second and learn to appreciate these things. While this sentiment may sound simple, it is a lot easier said than done for many of us who are busy, or in many of our cases, a very busy leader.
I am the type of person who likes to stay busy. I like having things to do, and never being bored. For this reason, I often find myself taking on many leadership roles and responsibilities. I get great satisfaction from accomplishing things. When I do well on a paper or presentation, the feeling is very fulfilling, to say the least. However, I noticed that I enjoyed these things less and less when busy. I often jumped from one accomplishment to the other. Because of this, it was hard to feel satisfied in what I was doing. As soon as I finished one task, I was onto the next. There was no longer any time for me to “stop and smell the roses”, only to keep working to the point of exhaustion. There were days that were so productive for me yet so tiring that I didn't feel like I was accomplishing anything. The only thing that I looked forward to or appreciated by the end of the day was going home and sleeping.
I no longer got joy out of the things that I accomplished. I was burnt out by my stress and lack of free time, and it got to the point that I wasn't ever accomplishing anything because it no longer gave me any fulfillment or satisfaction. I realized that if I wanted to continue to be a leader, something had to change. Being a leader involves knowing how to not only set aside time for myself throughout the day, but also learning when breaks are necessary. I learned that taking a break is not lazy or selfish. It is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and the people that you lead. To be a leader, you need to be the best version of yourself for your team, and you cannot do that if you are constantly exhausted and no longer receiving joy for the things that you are doing.
To do this, you need to set limits and boundaries for yourself. This can look like making sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, going to therapy, going to a yoga class, or just simply having a self-care day. I set a boundary by promising myself that I would not work more than one job or work on the weekends. This gives me a period throughout my week where I can decompress and reset so that I am at my best for next week. I also prioritize working out because it helps me to destress and process things more efficiently. I also make time for the activities that I love, like modeling, hanging out with friends, talking about topics that bring me joy. Finding these things, whatever they may be for you, that make you appreciate life and allowing yourself the time to enjoy them is important to your well-being.
Like many of you, I am currently at a place in my life where I have so much that I still want to accomplish, and I am more focused than ever on my goals. But I have come to realize that these goals cannot take priority over the things that matter the most, like my family and friends, my schoolwork, and most importantly my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. In realizing this, I have finally made time in my life for myself, and I have learned to better appreciate my accomplishments and all the blessings that I have received in my life. I can finally stop and smell the roses.