Putting Mindfulness to Work
Chances are, if you work in the financial sector, you’ve come across mindfulness in one shape or form, such as self-help books, smartphone apps, or workshops. As the benefits of mindfulness garner increasing attention in the public eye, organizations are bringing mindfulness to their own workplaces. Companies such as Aetna, BlackRock, Bridgewater Associates, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, and JP Morgan are taking advantage of how mindfulness can help their organizations, especially in terms of wellness.
Invest in Mindfulness
Working in finance can be stressful, especially when you’re pressured to be “always on.” Long hours, managerial pressure, and a heavy workload only make stress worse. Being constantly busy is like continuously withdrawing from your savings account without putting any money back in—you’re running a deficit on your body’s energy expenditure. Over time, this weakens your job performance, your health, and your well-being.
Mindfulness involves slowing down and being aware, non-judgmentally, of the present moment. This might seem counter-intuitive when you’re used to being constantly on the go. However, it’s when were at our most busy that we most need to take a moment to ourselves.
Think of mindfulness in terms of its return on investment. Mindfulness reduces stress. When you’re stressed, it’s harder to concentrate, and so you’re less efficient. Your mind wanders. You ruminate on decisions you’ve made. Were they the right ones? Could you have done better? When you’re mindful, it’s easier to ignore distractions and be productive. Mindfulness helps you step away from the chaos of the day to be at peace. These moments of stillness act as a refreshing pause for your mind[i]. While mindfulness is beneficial on its own, it is best combined with other forms of self-care. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, and spending quality time with friends and loved ones.
Mindfulness is a Tool
Adding mindfulness to your toolkit can have benefits beyond stress. In discussing his own mindfulness practice, Ray Dalio, CEO of Bridgewater Associates, says, “I meditate 20 minutes a day, except if I’ve got a busy day. Then I meditate 40 minutes.”[ii] Below are three other research-supported benefits that mindfulness can bring to individuals in the financial industry:
- More focused attention[iii]: Mindfulness helps keep your mind from wandering, or when it does, to bring it back to the task at hand. In doing so, you remain focused amid conflicting demands for your attention1. While this will boost your overall productivity by helping you ignore distractions, whether it’s your phone, email, or thoughts of your busy schedule.
- Better emotion regulation1. While you cannot always control your workload or the pressures that come with your job, you can learn to control your emotions. By being mindful, you can better learn from mistakes, rather than ruminating on them. The former CEO of Aetna, Mark Bertolini, who has been meditating for over 20 years, provides the following advice if you find yourself in a stressful situation: “Give it what it’s due and let it go.”[iv]
- Stronger decision-making and problem-solving1: Not only does mindfulness reduce bias, but it can even help improve your decision-making and risk-taking abilities. Research has shown that investors with less emotional reactivity to fluctuations in the stock market make better trading decisions[v]. Additionally, mindfulness can promote creative problem-solving, a key skill in developing innovative solutions to new challenges[vi],[vii].
Add mindfulness to your portfolio!
How Sigma Can Help
SIGMA offers a range of services to help you introduce mindfulness into your organization and sustain your practice over time. For more information, visit our mindfulness page for our webinar, a sample of our mindfulness practices, and our workshop offerings. If you’d like to learn more about how mindfulness can directly benefit you, contact us today.
[i] Good, D. J., Lyddy, C. J., Glomb, T. M., Bono, J. E., Brown, K. W., Duffy, M. K., …, & Lazar, S. W. (2016). Contemplating mindfulness at work: An integrative review. Journal of Management, 42, 114-142. doi:10.1177/0149206315617003
[ii] David Lynch Foundation. (2015, January 16). Martin Scorsese & Ray Dalio on Creativity, TM & Success: Highlights [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-kJvsQh8Ak
[iii] Moore, A., & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 176-186. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2008.12.008
[iv] Wisdom 2.0. (2013, October 16). Yoga, mindfulness, and leadership with Aetna CEO, Mark Bertolini at Wisdom 2.0 Business [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A87XJ7iPMI
[v] Lo, A. W., Repin, D. V., & Steenbarger, B. N. (2005). Fear and greed in financial markets: A clinical study of day-traders. The American Economic Review, 95, 352-359. doi:10.1257/000282805774670095
[vi] Ostafin, B. D., & Kassman, K. T. (2012). Stepping out of history: Mindfulness improves insight problem solving. Consciousness and Cognition, 21, 1031-1036. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2012.02.014
[vii] LeBoutillier, N., & Barry, R. (2018). Psychological mindedness, personality and creative cognition. Creativity Research Journal, 30(1), 78-84. doi:10.1080/10400419.2018.1411440