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How 3 Successful Women Stay Grounded

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There’s a movement underway focused on a new measure of success: your personal well being (thank you, Arianna Huffington). In this era of constant connectivity, it can be too easy to fall into the trap of more is more. The smartest leaders are finding ways to integrate daily moments of mindfulness and making career decisions that benefit their whole selves. Is the ultimate career goal now to live a fuller life? Here, Ellen Goodman, a Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist, Federica Marchionni, the president of Dolce & Gabbana, and Lucy Danziger, former editor-in-chief of Self Magazine and well-being lifestyle expert, weigh in and share what keeps them grounded.

1. Have you had a “final straw” moment that forced you to rethink your career choices? What did you do?

Ellen Goodman: There was a moment, or a hundred moments, when I realized that I wanted to tell people what I think. I wanted to write my opinion, my beliefs, my worldview. I wanted to convince them to see the world as I did. Gradually, I began to write opinion pieces and when the opening came, I jumped from reporting to column writing.

Federica Marchionni: I went to the hospital because I was experiencing symptoms of what felt like a heart attack. Luckily it was not fatal, but an episode brought on by too much stress. At that point, I decided to listen more to the needs of my body and not just the ones of my mind. I now rest when I feel it’s best rather than taking on another commitment.

Lucy Danziger: I recently left Self after 13 years, and Conde Nast after 18 years, and I think the most important thing is to go out and reinvent yourself in a way that makes sense to you, but also requires you to get outside your comfort zone. That means not taking another similar magazine job, but launching something new, exciting and unique. I can’t say specifically right now (still cooking up plans), but I look forward to working and playing in new arenas and trying to create something new.

2. What is the one thing you must do every day to stay grounded?

Goodman: Drink good coffee—you think I’m kidding but I’m not. And take a good walk. Also connecting with at least one of the people I love.

Marchionni: Whenever possible I like to take my son to school in the morning, and then take a long walk with my husband to the office with a stop for our morning cappuccino. This gives us an opportunity to spend some quality time together.

In the evening, I always take a minute to meditate and think of all the things I’m grateful for. I feel it’s very important to focus on the positive and to not take anything for granted.

Danziger: I love to workout really hard in the morning before work and then everything just feels easier for the rest of the day. I read a study that explains it this way: There is a hormonal afterglow to the stress and physical challenge of working out, and this anti-stress chemical sticks around in your system for up to 12 hours. So I can workout at six to seven a.m. and feel that lingering calm for the entire workday, and then at about seven p.m., I’m done and either need to go relax (with gal pals or a glass of red wine), or do something physical again like a swim. Or sometimes I’ll do both. Swim first, then wine. So my day is bookended by things that make me feel good!

3. We’ve been told to NOT sleep with your devices. So what’s on your nightstand?

Goodman: Here’s what’s NOT on my nightstand: iPhone, iPad, laptop. My nightstand is, however, a complete mess of the magazines and books I’m reading/think I’ll start reading/or gave up reading half way through.

Marchionni: Water and my readings, on paper and digital.

Danziger: Ridiculously, I have never read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book is a perennial best seller and it’s something everyone I know has read, so I feel it’s a missing part of my education. Plus, for seeming totally different, the essay collection Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. My iPad with Next issue and every magazine on the newsstand easily downloadable. And a pen and lined paper book for ideas, since I always have ideas as I’m about to fall asleep. It’s as if my brain relaxes and releases all these cool new heights that have been held in by the other conscious to-dos on my list. It’s freeing just to write before bed. And I sleep better!

Hear more from Ellen Goodman, Frederica Marchionni and Lucy Danziger (as well as many more remarkable speakers) at THRIVE: A Third Metric Live Event. Find out how to get a Levo discount to the conference!

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