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How To Prepare For Bumpy Times Ahead – The High Achiever’s Survival Guide For Winter 2022

Written by: Sarah McNicol, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


How do you behave when you’re under pressure? What happens to your thoughts? Actions? Relationships? Communications? To-do list? Time management? Do you push yourself harder?

When high-achieving, purpose-driven, caring, people are under pressure, instinctively they push themselves harder. The bar is raised, the demands piled on, adrenaline pumps and even more ideas are generated. It’s an unconscious survival mechanism that in good times, (and with a shelf-life) can be a strength. It makes for inspiring leaders and drives many outstanding results.

In bad times, without intervention, high-performing perfectionist types push harder in all directions at once and are at high risk of pushing too much, for too long and burning out and/or becoming ineffective.

At this time of the year as winter approaches, our ancient survival instincts to batten down the hatches and prepare for leaner times are normally rumbling.

This year add in the energy crisis, inflation, and the legacy of COVID and it’s a truly potent mix ramping up stresses and strains on such leaders and the people they’re responsible for and care about. It triggers what I call Overdrive. Think, foot on the gas, constantly, no stopping, no slowing down.

It’s time to act

If you identify with the above and are feeling at all overwhelmed, anxious, tired, and yet unable to stop, it’s time to act. (BTW You may not identify as a high performer because you always see your shortfall but trust your title ‒ CEO, Founder, MD, Head of...)

This Winter is going to challenge you and trigger your habitual instinct to push and drive yourself harder. Stressors abound and it’s not looking like that’ll change anytime soon. It is vital you look after your mind body spirit well-being, even if only so you can lead your people and show up for the causes you care about.

Thanks to burning out a decade ago and the journey to recovery, I understand my own instinctive patterns. I have changed my everyday lifestyle, and, how I behave when the chips are down. A lot of the steps I’ve taken and help my high-performing clients take, go against the grain for high achievers. They’re not tah-dah, dramatic, or excelling. They’re gentle, subtle, and pedestrian. (AKA, for the high performer, boring!)

As I said, the steps to achieve this are not very sexy, not that is until you’ve been adhering to them for some time and your new normal is to feel strong, grounded, focused, vital, energized, confident and optimistic. Then they’re pretty hot!

But that is for down the line. For now, it’s a question of simply doing what really you know is good for you, (but don’t get around to) because in the short term it will help you do what needs doing, make better decisions quicker, problem-solve, take action, have more capacity to support others.

And, be resilient so you are still here in spring when the shoots of optimism reappear.

If it helps, you could think of it as taking radical responsibility for yourself and those who rely on you. Your team, customers, and family.

Taking radical responsibility

This means taking off pressure where possible and adding in nurture where possible.

What does it look like in action? Here are some real-life examples of what my high-performing coaching clients are doing to prepare themselves for the bumpy ride of winter 2022:

  • Taking the dog for a walk at least once a day.

  • Scheduling a holiday in November and in January so I have a rest and something to look forward to.

  • Saying no to requests to do things my team could handle.

  • Working less hours, no late nights or weekends.

  • Switching my PC off at 6 pm.

  • Closing the office door at the weekend.

  • Going to the gym, working out with a trainer.

  • Moving my mind off overthinking.

  • Building in some me time outside work.

  • Treating myself with love, patience, tolerance, and respect.

  • Letting my staff hold the fort.

  • Being selective about the clients I take on.

  • Physically move and change activity when I notice I’m getting overwhelmed.

  • Not being on my phone on before work, instead having breakfast, and talking to the kids.

  • Making time to go out for a meal with my wife.

  • Going to Padley Gorge for a walk.

  • Taking cold showers daily.

As I said, these examples may not be sexy, but they are the powerfully sustaining choices of people who are invested in their present and future outcomes.

Not a fluffy nice-to-have, self-care is serious stuff for the purpose-driven high achiever’s survival kit. This winter more than ever.

With practice, it can become the solid foundation for a reinvigorated life of service, satisfaction, passion, and joy.

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. The hardships and challenges of the Winter ahead might just be your invite to not only survive in one piece until the Spring but thrive in re-invented form for your future to come.

How will you take radical responsibility for your well-being this winter? I’d love to hear.

Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Sarah McNicol, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Sarah McNicol helps purpose-driven high achievers who are over-committed and feel like they are constantly running and burning out.

Sarah helps them re-find the joy and meaning in life, so they can get what matters done and make the impact they want, whilst still having time and energy for themselves.

Sarah is a healer and change agent. Her sensitive deep approach is underpinned by 30 years of people development expertise, working with thousands of individuals and teams in a wide variety of contexts.



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