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Self-Care Can Help CFMs Reach Success

Joe McLaughlin
Joe McLaughlin, CCIFP, Incoming Chairman

Welcome to 2019! The holidays are over. There are no more bowl games to be played. And for
most CFMA members, this is the busiest time of year.

Many construction financial managers (CFMs) are consumed with long days, work-filled weekends, and unwavering focus on and analysis of the previous year’s activity as they work through year-end close rituals.

With the hovering pressure of deadlines, higher stress levels, and lower energy levels, how can CFMs get through seemingly endless piles of accumulating work?

Combating Burnout & Work-Related Stress
Throughout our careers, we tend to focus on achieving high-level performance day in and day out. The constant demands from work schedules can lead us to experience job burnout, energy draining stress, and negative attitudes.

In the winter months, many of us drive to work in the dark. We can easily become overloaded with the demands of working on everything for everyone except for what we intended to get done. We might skip a meal or two because there’s simply no time, resorting instead to the office vending machine or an energy drink just to keep going. And, after such a hectic day, we drive back home in the dark, only to continue working. It’s no wonder our attitudes can shift to negativity.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

Self-Care Starts with Small Changes
During these stressful periods, self-care shouldn’t take a backseat. Experts like Dr. Kenneth Cooper, a previous CFMA Annual Conference General Session speaker and celebrated fitness pioneer, advocate that regularly engaging in 30-minute aerobic workouts can significantly improve health, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, and heighten mental attentiveness.

Last summer, I began to change some of my own habits after reading “The Making of a Corporate Athlete,” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in Harvard Business Review.

The authors posit that improving our physical, mental, and spiritual foundation can have a direct correlation to an increase in our energy level, focus, and attitude.

So, I started with exercising two to three times a week. To complement my workout regiment,
I also focused on eating a well-balanced diet. Since I have implemented these fitness and wellness changes, I have noticed an increase in my mental capacity and attentiveness, which have also positively affected my attitude and significantly enhanced my productivity.

In addition to exercise and diet, it can be helpful to take periodic breaks during stressful days. Studies show that quieting the mind promotes energy and recovery. Per Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, “Sustained high achievement demands physical and emotional strength…executives need to learn what world-class athletes already know: recovering energy is as important as expending it.”

Our minds and bodies can be compared to our muscles when weight lifting. If we over-stress them without adequate rest, they can begin to break down.

The authors mention that it can be helpful to maintain a work-rest ratio as in weight lifting, where a muscle can be stressed to “the point where its fibers literally start to break down.
Given an adequate period of recovery…the muscle will not only heal, it will grow stronger. But persist in stressing the muscle without rest and the result will be acute and chronic
damage.”

Ultimately, performing effectively and consistently in deadline-oriented, high-pressure work environments can take a toll on our health. In order to maximize our daily efforts, it is
important to prioritize our own self-care. After all, when we feel our best, we do our best work.

Let 2019 be the year that we all “up our game.” Our well-being, work, and relationships will benefit immensely as a result.


Copyright © 2019 by the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA). All rights reserved. This article first appeared in CFMA Building Profits and is reprinted with permission. CFMA Building Profits is a member-only benefit; join CFMA to receive the magazine.

Contact publications@cfma.org for reprinting information. You can also download a PDF of this article.