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Mar 28, 2022

Personal sustainability

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT

CEO and Co-Founder

This past week, I had a few skip-level meetings with various Motivo employees. If you are unfamiliar with this term, I was too! In short, it’s a one-on-one meeting between a manager and a team member who doesn’t directly report to the manager.

The goal of the meeting is to build rapport with other members of the company, and to gain insight and feedback directly from employees. If you are curious, you can read more about skip-level meetings here

One of my skip-level meetings this week was with Motivo’s product designer, Yuan Chang – and during it, I learned a new term I’d love to share with you.

Before I get to that, let me share that Yuan is widely regarded as one of the coolest people on our team. She is a talented designer and a thoughtful team member, but what makes her even cooler are her interests outside of work. In her spare time, Yuan is an electronic music producer as well as an avid humanitarian, activist and community leader. 

Before coming to Motivo, Yuan built a low income housing community space in Orlando, FL that served as a model for equitable housing (read about Peanut Butter Palace right here).

So cool, am I right?!?

During our skip-level meeting, Yuan and I were discussing her experience, thus far, at Motivo. She had a lot of great feedback about the areas of the company she enjoys, as well as some of the challenges she faces in her role.

Yuan shared that one thing she thinks about a lot is the idea of personal sustainability. This was a new term to me so I asked her to say more. Yuan shared that she is still learning how to strike the right balance of work and rest in a remote environment. She said that she wants to work at Motivo for a long time, and so she feels strongly about ensuring that she crafts her days and weeks in a way that doesn’t lead to burnout. In short, she wants to sustain herself for the long haul.

Oh wow – I can totally relate. How about you?

The term “personal sustainability” struck me as being proactive rather than reactive. Here is what I mean…

Often, in the mental health field, we speak about self care as a way to combat burnout – but self care feels a bit reactionary to me. Example: I’ve run myself ragged all week long, so now I’m going to take a bath or get a pedicure in order to recharge.

Alternatively, personal sustainability, as I understand it, takes more of a proactive and preventative approach. Example: In looking ahead at my week, I’m going to block off my calendar each afternoon for a 30 minute nap, or a long, restorative walk. 

During this time of the great resignation, personal sustainability is such an important part of workplace health. Here are a few of the ways I’m hoping to promote the idea of personal sustainability at Motivo:

  • Incorporating regular check-in’s on the stress level and work load of team members. I LOVE this article that our CTO, Mike, shared with me about the benefit of “slack” in an employee’s workload.
  • Normalizing rest during the workday – I talk often about my love of an afternoon nap with the team so that they feel empowered to take part in whatever restores them.
  • Discouraging an “always-on” mentality and, instead, making space for employees personal lives and non-work interests.
  • Recognizing and celebrating milestones, and allowing time for restorative rest between intensive work cycles.
  • Providing opportunities for employees to take part in decision-making, particularly when the outcome will affect them directly.
  • Clearly communicating company goals and role expectations so employees understand the job-to-be-done and can evaluate what resources they may need. As Brené Brown says, “clear is kind.”

How does the idea of personal sustainability land with you today? As a therapist turned entrepreneur, I’m still relatively new to the role of “manager” – so if you have additional insights or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Please feel free to respond here and share your thoughts.

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
CEO/Co-Founder, Motivo

Each Monday, I’ll share my perspective on topics that mean a lot to me: growth, resilience, relationships, and leadership.

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