Growing up in a family-owned business, the never-ending exhaustion was something I came to view as normal. My parents owned a restaurant, wanted it to be successful, and worked every hour they could to do that. Makes sense, right?
I see it everyday among fellow entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even clients. A feeding frenzy that never ends, a rush to do it all, be it all, learn it all – as fast as we can. Compete, run, compete, RUN, go – go!!
But what are we sacrificing?
We live in a culture that glorifies the ‘busy’ person and looks down on someone who takes a vacation. I’ve even heard a few entrepreneurs brag about how long it’s been since they took a vacation!
How is this affecting our health, our mental capacity to handle stress, to balance life, to enjoy the present, and to grow as individuals and business owners?
Do we really believe that living at this pace is bringing out the best in us?
For me, it’s something I’m actively trying to make right in my life – sleeping, taking breaks, resettling my mind and giving my body the exercise it deserves. But it’s not easy.
I fall victim to the addiction of work all the time. I find myself back at my laptop when I don’t need to be there. And I have issues putting away my cellphone at bedtime.
Why are we doing it? Success? But what is the definition of success? Is it building a family? Watching children grow up, filling the bank with cash or being able to travel the world?
We all have different definitions for success and they’re all equally important. But we can’t attain achievements of any kind without making investments in the most important asset we have – ourselves.
So what are the greatest investments we can make for ourselves?
Not to be dark – but I’m dying, you’re dying, we’re all dying, and sitting down all day isn’t exactly fending off that destination. We’re fools if we believe we can sacrifice our health for the sake of our business or goals.
I know, I know – you don’t want to hear it! But you need to. I need to.
Being healthy isn’t just being active, it also means eating right and sleeping at least 7-8 hours per night. And if we don’t make time for it, our bodies will force us to at some point, whether by illness, burnout or mental issues.
Not taking care of ourselves always catches up. Always.
Being healthy – eating right, exercising, and sleeping all work in conjunction to make us more productive in a shorter amount of time. It gives us the ability to be alert, creative, focused and more capable of handling stress.
When I see successful people online who are overweight and unhealthy, I worry for them. They may have the speaking engagements, big deals, and their names plastered everywhere, but their hectic schedules will eventually catch up.
After being diagnosed as a celiac last year and having my plane landed is a serious way in regards to my health, I realized how much we take it for granted that we CAN work and CAN prosper. My sickness lands me in bed for days at a time with after-effects that last a week and sometimes more rendering me incapable of doing everything I need to in a day.
Talk about a wake-up call!
Don’t take your health for granted because you never know when you won’t have it anymore.
2. Walking Away
As an agency owner, this is definitely an area I struggle with, but one I am determined to defeat.
For those of you who work at home or have the capability, you know it well – work shuts down, yet somehow you end up right back in your working chair within an hour or two.
But for your sanity and mine, we must master it. We must for our clients, our progress and (yes) our health. How can we expect the physical body and mind to create on a constant basis without a break – a real break?
It reminds of a computer. My laptop normally speeds ahead and can handle massive amounts of alternating activities, open tabs online, and a full home screen. Then one day it slows wayyyyyy down, gets buggy, and starts making noises. These symptoms typically remind me it’s been a while since I shut the laptop down and let it reboot naturally. Our bodies need the same.
About four months ago, I hit burnout. It had been over a year since the last one, so I’d forgotten the sluggish energy level, the whitewashed brain, the dizziness and nausea – basically, just total exhaustion. I was well into day 2, cussing at myself for being a procrastinator when I realized it had been weeks since I took a full day off. Ahhh, I exclaimed to my body, this is why you’re SO upset with me!
It took me almost two weeks to fully recover, and this time, I hope the lesson has been learned.
We need breaks, throughout the day, full days off, days to relax, to laugh, to forget about work, and to rejuvenate the creativeness that sets us on fire.
These days, I take mini breaks throughout the day, and walk away from my computer no later than 9pm. And I honor myself in taking one full day off a week.
I call balance an enigma for entrepreneurs. We constantly hear about it, but never seen it. I think natural human tendencies are towards extremes, “I’m going on a diet tomorrow so I won’t eat ANYTHING for a week,” or “I’ve got to get this done, so I won’t STOP until it’s complete.”
We jump in so full throttle that we forget that term, ‘happy medium’ is really our best friend.
We have to allow ourselves to be human, have awareness for how we deal with different aspects of life, and then acclimate to make the best decisions we can for how to master them.
For myself, balancing is almost a laughable subject. I go to such extremes that my parents just shake their head when I’ve found a new obsession or am staying away from something – they know in time all will calm down. But it doesn’t stop my yearning for the quest of balance, and I’m closer than ever!
We need balance to be successful – knowing when to grind it out and when to take it easy. I meet lots of successful people, but where they are successful in the working area of their life, other aspects are missing out. And sadly, it’s usually the most important parts, i.e. oneself, family or friends.
There’s no shame in working long hours, in putting the time in, but we won’t ever be able to get that time back.
If something happened and it was all over tomorrow, would you be happy with the way you spent your last night/week/year? It’s a question I often ask myself because if I don’t, I will stay and work and let life pass by.
We can have both, but must make the investment in ourselves to make it happen.