Key Takeaways from Stacy Igel’s Embracing the Calm in the Chaos
For many leaders, “balance” feels like a foreign concept or a lofty—but unattainable—ideal. Who has time for personal interests and passions with such a rigorous work schedule?
Stacy Igel’s book Embracing the Calm in the Chaos encourages busy managers, executives, and business owners to reconsider their beliefs about finding balance—and prioritize it. With the increasing pace of technological innovation, ever-shifting workplace dynamics, and post-pandemic economic turmoil, Igel’s strategies can guard against stress, burnout, overwhelm, and “quiet quitting.”
Read on to learn Igel’s approach to finding a greater sense of work-life balance and embracing the calm in the chaos.
Begin with Boundaries
Igel opens her book by stressing the importance of setting boundaries. What does that look like in the workplace? She emphasizes that leaders and entrepreneurs should “identify and define the goals and priorities that are essential to them and their business, and set boundaries for how far beyond those they are willing to go.”
In other words, know what you're capable of and what's most important so you won't bend when the heat is on. Consider and create your boundaries at the same time you set your goals, to ward off overwhelm and chaos.
Ideas for Creating Healthier Boundaries
- Decide in advance what you consider “work time” and “non-work time”—then honor both! Turn off notifications from work emails, texts, and calls during non-work time. During work time, limit your personal interactions accordingly.
- Create a separate email account for work and limit checking it to work hours. Help your team members and clients understand these boundaries with an auto-reply message or a signature that advises when they might expect you to respond to emails.
Cultivate Intentional Relationships
Igel explains that having solid relationships inside and outside the workplace can help you stay connected to your passions, your identity, and a network of support when stressful situations arise.
The key to this strategy is intentionality. Make an effort to “invest in others and yourself” through friendships and alliances that feel respectful and rooted in trust. You can do this with small acts of kindness, like sending a thank-you card, a check-in text, or a funny meme, spending a few minutes chatting by the water cooler or showing interest in a coworker’s office decor.
The relationships you build with intentionality can dramatically impact how you feel at work and at home. Instead of going it alone, you’ll feel buoyed up by like-minded, caring peers and a community of allies.
Ideas for Cultivating Intentional Relationships
- Set aside specific times for socializing, whether grabbing dinner with a friend or meeting for coffee once a week. Then stick to your commitments!
- Find an “accountability buddy” who would like to be more intentional about cultivating their relationships. Then help each other stay on track and motivated to make time for building and developing relationships.
Embrace the Power of Stillness
This concept can feel incredibly challenging for busy leaders, but the rewards are worth it. Embracing stillness involves making regular time to unplug from everyday life's hustle and bustle at work or home.
When you carve out moments to unplug from it all, don’t let the quiet become an echo chamber for your upcoming to-do lists or obligations. Instead, keep bringing your focus back to the present moment. Reflect on gratitude and the people, experiences, and comforts that bring you joy and meaning.
As you practice this form of mindfulness, don't be surprised if you feel more deeply connected to your motivations, identity, and zest for life.
Ideas for Embracing Stillness
- Try journaling when you meditate. Writing down your inner wisdom, gratitude, and ideas can help you remember and harness them.
- Make time for physical activities like going for a walk in nature. Quiet, reflective activities that don’t involve screens or technology can be incredibly calming during busy times.
Learn to Listen to Your Intuition
Igel encourages leaders and entrepreneurs to trust themselves and their instincts. Doing this can be difficult in a world with so many voices and opinions vying for your attention. Igel recommends taking the time to “listen to the truth that comes from within” and then acting on that inner knowledge. (A great time to listen for that inner wisdom is when you embrace stillness!)
Remember, everyone’s work-life and home-life look different. What matters most is that you find ways to reach your goals and create meaningful relationships in the world that align with your sense of identity and inner wisdom. Your situation and life are unique, meaning you are the only one who can know what’s best for you.
Ideas for Learning to Listen to Your Intuition
- Take the time to identify, name, and act on your instincts. Doing this might sound easy, but it can be a surprising challenge! Throughout your day, ask yourself, “What emotion am I feeling right now?” “What is best for me in this situation?” or “What do I want?”
- Before seeking outside validation or confirmation, practice deciding how you feel about a concept, project, or idea. By doing so, you can avoid overcommitting or agreeing to something that doesn’t align with your values or boundaries.
Reflect and Apply
By following Igel’s strategies, leaders and entrepreneurs can find more balance—which comes with an enhanced sense of well-being, lower stress, and the ability to use their limited time wisely.
Regardless of your unique work-life or home life, Igel’s key concepts of setting boundaries, intentionally cultivating relationships, embracing the power of stillness, and listening to your intuition can help you find calm in the chaos at work or home.
Which of Igel’s strategies for finding balance resonated with you the most? Share it with us on Twitter, and tell us how you will use it to find calm in the chaos!