Chefs at Christmas 2020

Today we begin the Chefs at Christmas campaign here at Love Letters to Chefs, supporting you wherever you are based with insights and reminders that will help you find balance through the busy season.

You will see that the advice is pared down to the basic things that you need to do to support your wellbeing this month. More importantly, these are measures that will ensure that you keep being effective in the kitchen during a time when you have little opportunity to recharge.

I invite you to tune in, adopt the strategies that resonate with you and stick to them as best as you can – even if you are working at a reduced capacity because of current local restrictions. I encourage those of you who will not be working this month to also pay attention – so that you can apply the advice when you do return to the kitchen next year.

All the very best, chefs!

Make it easier

Wisdom from author James Clear on setting a good habit: a simple way to make it easier to persist with it is to reduce the number of steps it takes for you to do it. This is how the hack of leaving your workout clothes next to your bed helps you overcome your resistance to getting some exercise every morning.

He says that the opposite works when you want to give up a negative habit: every additional step works like an obstacle and you are less likely to give into the temptation of practising that habit.

The key here is that you can put these kinds of structures into place to do the heavy lifting for you. Then there is no question of guilt or self-blame when you struggle to keep your promises to yourself. Would you agree that is a better way forward, chefs?

Test of our will

Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once – Paulo Coelho

I invite you to ask yourself this question today, chef: How do you manage your life during those two extreme situations in your work? What are some of the things you do to support your wellbeing then? What is going well? What could you do better?

Reminder: Webinar today

Whether your busy season has been delayed by a few weeks due to a lockdown, or whether it starts this week where you are based, the fact remains that it will still be demanding on us. To thrive means that we will need to do a few basic things to support our physical, mental and social wellbeing over the next few weeks.

Today’s webinar will focus on just that and serve as a reminder for you to be mindful of your needs during the period leading up to Christmas – something that you can lose sight of when you give your best to serving others.

Registration is still open, so please join me, chefs. There is a link in bio to sign up.

Webinar 2nd November: Finding balance in the busy season

Your work-life balance actions for the next two months have to be pared down, yet effective enough to support you during the long, intense work days that make up the busy season. In this, our final webinar for the year, we look at some of the basic things (actions, mindset, supportive measures) you can do to support your wellbeing through this period.

Join me on the 2nd of November for this 30-minute training via Zoom. Please sign up via the link in bio.

Be conscious

Even if you are not currently working as much as you once used to, be conscious that at a time like this, there are more demands on your energy than there were before the pandemic. Not only does everything you do in everyday life take longer and need more careful attention, but you also have to constantly keep up with and adapt to changes in how you do them. Even if you currently spend a lot of your time contemplating your next career move, it might sound like a passive activity, but that mental activity also takes up a lot of your energy.

My message for you today is just to be conscious of the many ways in which you expend your energy and to make sure you keep doing whatever you can to support your wellbeing now – even if you do not feel like you are working hard enough by your standards.

Workshop 26th October: reminder

Despite the messaging we get from our kitchen culture, our work and a fulfilling life outside it do not have to be mutually exclusive. We can take the steps to review that line of thinking, tune into what our thoughts and values are on that matter, and take the necessary actions to build the well-rounded lives that we might desire to live.

In this, the final workshop for 2020, we address all of the above. The training is designed so you get to work through each one of those steps, so you can build a vision for that well-rounded life. Furthermore, you are supported for three weeks following the workshop: you do not have to be working on your new positive habits in isolation.

This is a great opportunity for you to step into the busy season and then the new year with a healthy approach to work-life balance: no matter what your rotas look like. Join me for this 1.5 hour workshop next Monday delivered on Zoom. Please sign up via this link and DM if you have any questions.

National Work Life Week 2020: our culture

Yes, there are many who say, “This is how it has always been done.” But we have to remember that as much as we stand on the shoulders of giants, those who went before us are counting on us to advance our profession and its culture.

Even before the pandemic struck, the sustainability of our careers and the profession itself felt like a battle to many chefs. This is the time for us to question the norms of our culture that do not serve us and let go of them. Then, perhaps, we can finally look forward to a quality of life that we are clearly denying ourselves now.

It is just a question of being honest and letting go: the vacuum will soon be filled by attitudes and ideas that will support us and ensure that we can keep doing what we love for as long as we wish, as part of a balanced, fulfilling life.

National Work Life Week 2020: support your team

There is no dearth of resources and guidance out there for employers, so another list on this page will be of no relevance. What I want to highlight is that by placing an emphasis on work-life balance, employers can reverse negative effects of cultural attitudes that are doing no one in the industry any good: ideas around martyrdom and sacrifice that are expected if you want to work in a kitchen.

Because the work of a chef does not end with giving it your all during your shift. Ours is a physically and mentally demanding profession, and your self-care in between shifts determines how you show up in the kitchen. But unless employers subscribe to that truth, we can never get to the place where their staff fully take on their own responsibilities towards their wellbeing.