Women Supporting Women: Advice to Women on Resilience
Sally Boyle, international head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs, speaks about the importance of committing to a healthy and resilient lifestyle, as part of our Women Supporting Women blog series.
At this point in the year many people – myself included – have given up on many of their New Year resolutions. This year I am determined to keep up with one of mine. I have continued to learn from others new strategies for managing my wellbeing and have resolved to focus on resilience to make me healthier and more productive both at work and at home. It takes discipline to prioritise looking after myself when I am busy, but the returns are well worth the investment. The following activities work well for me.
Putting Time in my Diary
A few years ago, I had a serious knee injury which required months of rehabilitation. While it was hard to accommodate, it was critical to full recovery so I made the time for it. Before my injury, I was less disciplined about carving out time for exercise but that experience made me realise that you have time for whatever you chose to make time for. Today, my exercise routine includes strength training, Pilates and cycling. Sometimes I do my workouts in the morning before arriving at work, but my weekly Pilates class is during work hours. At GS, we are lucky to have onsite fitness facilities in London so this helps. There is plenty of evidence on the impact that exercise has on focus, mood and performance and so these regular slots are sacrosanct for me.
Nutrition is more difficult than exercise for me but it’s worth the effort. I simply function better at work when I am eating well. It gives me consistent energy that sustains me through the day. Preparation is key – I bring my own lunches and snacks to the office so that I can eat regularly, which helps to keep me alert without battling drops in blood sugar. It takes some thought up front but it is easier once it becomes a habit.
A good night’s sleep is crucial for mental resilience. Early in my career I would often lie awake at night worrying about work and my restless mind would let things spin out of proportion. If I had spoken to my manager or even my friends about my concerns, it would have helped me keep things in perspective, and alleviate stress. Now, when something is on my mind, I make sure to chat to someone about it. Every week, I meet women at all stages of their careers, and try to help them keep that perspective on work too. No one should regularly lose sleep because of stress. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to someone. If you notice that a colleague seems overwhelmed, offer to have coffee and listen. We should all look for ways to support the mental health and wellbeing of those around us.
It’s crucial to create boundaries when it comes to work and to make time to recharge. I believe it is important to create your own rules and stick to them – for example, planning when you will leave the office or what time you stop checking emails at home.
Hobbies are key too. Over the weekend, I can happily spend hours on my two favourite hobbies: golf, and cycling. For me, one of the main benefits of cycling is that it’s impossible to answer emails on a bike and for those few hours, I don’t think about work at all! I’m so present and mindful of the world going by while exercising at the same time.
I know it’s not easy for everyone to draw this line in the sand, especially those just starting out in their career. Personally, I really struggled with this when I became a mother. The key is to have confidence in yourself and your work. There is always more work to be done but if you have done everything you needed to on that particular day then you should leave the office knowing that your work will speak louder than your hours at the desk.
When I look at the most successful people I have had the pleasure of working with, they are usually excellent at taking care of themselves. As responsibility grows, so too does the importance of being resilient. You can get a head start by cultivating healthy habits right away and building resilience over the course of your career.