This blog is part of a 2-part interview series, delving into the idea of change and how to effectively implement it with speakers from our Women in Tax National Congress. Read part 1 here.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve learnt that change can be unexpected, uncomfortable and really difficult. Change, especially on the scale and at the peed we’ve all experienced during COVID-19, can leave you feeling breathless and burnt out.
But change can also be a force for good. It can mean growth, discovery and innovation. At our Women in Tax Congress this June, we’re exploring the techniques, strategies and tools used by experts to create positive change.
We recently sat down with presenter Duncan Young to hear more about his session, How the pandemic can enhance our wellbeing. In this session, Duncan talks about how small, gradual changes can have a life-changing impact.
Watch key points from the interview below.
What should we expect from your session at the Women in Tax Congress?
The session is about health and wellbeing and how pandemics could actually improve your wellbeing. Much of the science of wellbeing is really about the small things that you do every day. And although many of us have experienced stress and been stressed and been anxious the last 12 months, many of us have also experienced growth.
So we know that growth can be present at the same time that we are feeling stressed and strained. So the session is really about the small things we do every day, that can help you build towards thriving wellbeing. And because wellbeing's a journey, small, intentional steps make a big difference over time.
We've seen this play out over time, many times, in fact, where these small changes that people make with their health and wellbeing make a big change for the rest of their lives. We are going to be talking in this session about nutrition, about movement, about recovery, and of course our social connections. Many of them lead to each other. We know that if you eat well that your gut biome will improve. If your gut biome improves, it generates the happiness hormone, serotonin. So it makes you happier, nicer to be around, all those kind of things.
So it's really interesting how those small changes actually make a really big difference to people in the longer run. You've just gotta stick with those small changes.
How did you first get interested in wellbeing and change?
I’ve always been interested in health and wellbeing, and I'm just a curious person. The more that I read, the more that I looked, I started looking at positive psychology. With so much bad news in the world, positive psychology doesn't ask what's going wrong in your life, it says, “tell me about the best things that have happened in your life. Tell me about the, the best things that are happening right now.”
I love the fact that we can look forward, we can appreciate the good things that are happening in our life. And it really helped me pit my interest in exploring this further. We help a lot of people and the more people through each of the programs that we run, actually, it's a great feeling to know that we've helped people on their own health and wellbeing journey. So I love the fact that we've now got a whole cohort of people who are much healthier now, as a result of being through the program and that are all now on their own wellbeing journey.
Which aspect of this topic is the most exciting for you and why?
The topic that most excites me in this session is really about how small change can make a huge difference over time. So this is really about, we call it “marginal gains”. You might call it “compound interest”. Wellbeing is a bit like compounding the small interdependent things that you do the whole time, that add up to a larger wellbeing at the end of the day. These seemingly very small elements make a big difference.
If I told you a maths equation: if you improved by just 1% every day for the whole year, 365 days, you'd be 37x better. I think that's fascinating how these small changes can make a huge difference when it comes to your wellbeing.
Why is this topic so relevant for practitioners right now?
Wellbeing as a topic is so relevant at the moment because many of us have experienced trauma, if you like, and poorer mental health as a result of the pandemic. But if everyone is able to think about that stress as a natural response to stimuli, if everyone understands that post traumatic growth actually occurs after you've experienced some stress and strain in your life.
It's important now because when we look to the future, the future is going to be constantly changing. Our ability to manage our workloads, to handle all these changing scenarios, is really based on how fit and well we are mentally, physically, how strong our social connections are. This interconnection of all the small elements we make up makes it so relevant for people right now.
And remember that your working career is going to extend as life extends. We're now predicting that 90,000 hours will be the average kind of working career that people have. So without wellbeing, it's going to be pretty hard to keep up that work over a long period of time.
What outcomes do you hope delegates will achieve from your session?
At the end of the session, I'm hoping you’re going to walk away with a couple of outcomes. One is a better understanding of how health and wellbeing actually works in our daily lives. Hopefully you'll understand that small change makes a big difference over time, that we're not looking to change anything big, we're just trying to make something small.
And of course we're going to work on your strengths, not only what your strengths are, but what gives you strength. So we're going to work on your strengths to accelerate you down the health and wellbeing journey.
We are going to hopefully get you to just try one thing, whether it's something to do with your social connection, something to do with your nutrition, your movement, or in fact how you recover from sleep. It'll be one small takeaway, that you can implement tomorrow. And when you've got that sorted, we'll give you another one as well. So again, the small changes with one wellbeing topic can make a big difference.
Any message for attendees at the Women in Tax Congress?
I'm really looking forward to meeting you all. It's one thing to talk about wellbeing, but it’s another one to foster people's curiosity. So I do a thing called building awareness. So I'm going to help you understand the smaller elements that add up to thriving wellbeing. We're going to pique your curiosity. We're going to foster it so you can actually start investigating on your own. I'm also going to give you some wellbeing tips around habit change. So habit change is a science in itself, and we're going to go through some behavioural science change can actually help you be the kind of person you want to be.
Finally, I just wanted to add that I think wellbeing is so important for not only our work lives, but our lives outside of work. We want you to be the best version of yourself. We're going to be talking about minimizing illness and promoting wellbeing. Again, it's the small things we do every day that make a big difference. The people you are surrounded with at the conference also will make a big difference. So your social connection to people you are learning with make a big impact to how you work and of course live. So I'm really looking forward to seeing you all at the Congress coming up. And I'm hoping to impart some of my curiosity and excitement about wellbeing and what it can do to help you be the best version of yourself. Thank you.
Catch Duncan at 9.15 am on 3 June 2022 at the Women in Tax Congress. In-person and online registration is available for this Sydney-based event, so you won’t miss out on these incredible insights. Find out more.
Duncan Young is the Head of Workplace Health and Wellbeing at leading international property and infrastructure group Lendlease. He is a passionate advocate of the positive impact of workplaces on health and helps ‘corporate athletes’ perform at their best. He believes that health is a journey and that small steps can lead to larger incremental change that help individuals to thrive, not just at work, but in life. His strategies and programs are research-based and grounded in the workplace, making them applicable in any environment and directly transferable between organisations.