Wealth has historically been viewed as financial success in business that translates to success in life. Money, real estate, investments, and ‘stuff’ like cars and expensive vacations—if you’ve got these things, you’re doing well for yourself…right?
Perhaps it’s time we recognized that the wealth game is changing. While money does matter, it’s no longer the foremost defining attribute of personal or professional achievement. Instead, a new focus on happiness and purpose is driving the common consciousness. This shift is due in part to the influence of millennials, whose priorities about work and life are reshaping everything from world economies to the business landscape as a whole.
The millennial mind looks at something like the price of real estate—the financial Everest they would need to climb to achieve some conventional form of “wealth”—and realizes that maybe there are more important things within their reach. Indeed, 53 percent of millennials say they value health more than any other priority besides family. Additionally, nine in 10 say they pursue health in order to be successful in other areas of life. It’s clear that, rather than wealth, this next generation of leaders prioritizes what I like to call ‘wellth.’
What is wellth? Wellth is the combination of physical, mental, and financial well-being that provides a foundation for each of us to strive toward success by living our best lives. Wellth redefines what it means to ‘arrive’ by focusing instead on the journey; it’s about not being a slave to the daily grind; it’s making a conscious decision to live well. And while wellth may seem like some kind of New Age idealism, it’s not limited to vegan yoga students, boot camp evangelists, or spin bike enthusiasts queuing up to find inner strength at studios all over the world. In fact, there is a definite growing awareness among middle-aged professionals and corporate leaders that seeking wellness will help to accomplish larger goals.
Here are three trends that showcase how millennial-minded workers and businesses are switching their focus from wealth to wellth.
Fueling an Appetite for Ambition
It’s true: green is the new black. Just take a look at the many healthy eating gurus who are dominating Instagram feeds and building entrepreneurial empires on the foundation of wellness. Beyond the trendiness, though, this new focus on eating right underscores an emerging understanding and appreciation of how food affects all aspects of our lives.
The healthy food/happy employees connection has not gone unrecognized by most forward-thinking businesses. Research shows that employees with unhealthy diets are 66 percent more likely to experience a loss in productivity than those who regularly eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This is something most people realize from personal experience without even needing the science to back it up. There are foods that increase focus, concentration, and alertness, just as there are foods that make you feel sluggish, uninterested, and tired—it’s the reason we all silently chide ourselves for reaching for that bag of chips when we’re stressed.
Not surprisingly, Google has spared no expense to ensure their cafeteria nurtures employees from the inside out. That’s because they realize that there’s an integral correlation between health, employee happiness, and the combined effect of both on business success. They value wellth!
Finding Focus in Action
Increasing your heart rate and physically pushing your body isn’t only good for your muscles and bones, it’s also great for your brain. This relationship is why many of the world’s most successful business leaders turn to fitness to help them stay centered. In fact, Sir Richard Branson cites daily exercise as his number one secret to staying healthy and productive.
But it’s not only physical action that makes a difference. In addition to building fitness and wellness programs into their cultures, top companies are also recognizing the impact of purpose on the emotional wellbeing of their employees (and, ultimately, their bottom line). Those that prioritize action in the form of corporate social responsibility and embrace the power of giving back are finding success, both in terms of profitability and in terms of employee motivation, retention, and engagement.
Taking Mindfulness to Work
Balance in life is necessary, and burnout at work can often tip the scales in the wrong direction. Burnout manifests as a lack of interest or motivation, depression, or even physical illness—and 69 percent of employees cite burnout as a key contributing factor to poor productivity.
Along with eating right and staying fit, being mindful of burnout is essential for keeping your wellth account full. This can be as simple as scheduling time to unplug or learn new skills. Even technology—the supposed enemy of peace and quiet—can help. For example, apps like Headspace can act as a personal trainer for your mind and help you achieve your daily 10 minutes of mindfulness.
Businesses that want to help their employees avoid burnout can provide unique experiences, such as sponsoring a company cycling team or organizing regular outdoor retreats. Oftentimes, just getting outside is enough to reset the balance, as research shows that time spent in nature can increase happiness and attentiveness.
Journeying Toward Wellth
These three trends represent the tip of the iceberg for the wellth movement. As the millennial mindset continues to shift wellness from a mere fad into the mainstream, traditional constructs of personal/professional achievement are actively being replaced with a new appreciation of life goals (and how we reach them). The basic tenets of wellth may focus on diet, fitness, and mindfulness, but this movement is about more than just working out and eating berries and kale; it’s a conscious choice to live well.
As motivational philosopher (and friend) Jay Shetty notes, “We are human beings but act more like human doings. Instead of a ‘to do’ list we need a ‘to be’ list. Rather than thinking what we should do in situations we should think about who we want to be in situations.” Wellth is how many of us are bringing the act of being back into everything we do. It provides a holistic vision of what it takes for each of us to reach higher and go farther, which empowers us to build a solid foundation for attaining success in all aspects of life—including work.
So, how wellthy are you?