So your work load is such that you spend the good part of your day at work. You have been putting off on fun, family and health… in one word, Life.
Maybe you don’t think about it too much. You have gotten so used to the grind that you don’t notice your spirit dying away slowly. Can you think back to a time when you were full of life and activity? When you would embark on an adventure on the slightest notice. It was tough then too. Maybe you needed permission from parents or teachers, maybe you bunked classes. It wasn’t always smooth, but you had fun any ways. And you didn’t die for it, did you? Life went on and you probably found that the fears your parents, teachers, and to some extent, you had, didn’t come to pass.
What happened since then? age..? responsibility..? You may say so, but deep down, you know that these are all excuses. I am sure you know a lot of very busy people who take regular care of their health and personal life. I remember reading an article about the health practices of some world leaders. I remember that article mentioned that George Bush trains regularly in the gym, he lifts around 80 kgs in Bench Press. I read that Putin still trains in Judo regularly, I read Tony Blair can run faster than a lot of professional football players. Leo Babauta never ceases to stress the importance of his family in his life and how much quality time he spends with them. If all these people can, why can’t you?
I don’t have the time. I have written on this topic before in this article . Time is not a commodity that you have to buy somewhere. Everyone already has 24 hour days, even the people mentioned above have the same hours. By offering this reason, you are just shrugging of your responsibility for your life. It’s not time you lack, proper prioritizing and planning are the right reasons probably. You don’t say no to your work(and the over work) but you do to your health, fun and relationships. There is no one holding a gun to your head. You have decided your priorities and you decide where to spend your time.
My manager doesn’t let me. Whether you like it or not, your life is YOUR responsibility. It is very pleasant to work with an understanding and amiable boss. Work becomes so much easier and fun. But if you depend on your manager to let you go pursue your health and life, you are seriously undermining your role in deciding your life. What you do in and with your life, is your decision. Period. If your boss decides how long you should work, it is because you let him/her. The decision and responsibility to let your boss do it still rests with you. You cannot escape that.
A lot of companies don’t care for the happiness and fitness of their employees, they are interested in the output their employees give. Same holds for a lot of bosses. But to just blame your boss, or your company, and raise your hands in despair doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility. If circumstances are not favorable, you yourself have to fix them. Would you just sit on your ass, waiting for things to get better or waiting for a change of Managers? Why expect so low from yourself? Be brave and courageous, find solutions to your problems. You can. You are a conscious human being and, as such, infinitely powerful.
I will have time once I am done with this one important project. Remember your childhood? As kids, most of us are taught that if we work hard and get good scores, we will lead a very happy life. Once we get a good score in school, and get into a good college, do we become finally happy and have all the fun? No. The same mentality continues, partly edged on by parents and partly because we are also, unconsciously, letting the same idea take root. We decide that we will have fun and be happy after we have worked hard through college and have landed a good job. What happens once we have that good job? You got it! We still are not happy. Why? Because now we have formed a habit of working hard in the present, to have fun ‘some day’. That ‘some day’ never arrives, it’s like the proverbial carrot at the end of the stick. Only this time, you yourself are holding that carrot to you, and worse still, you probably don’t even know it.
If you have to have fun, if you have to take care of your health, if you have to spend quality time with your family, friends and on your hobbies, you have to start NOW. In this very moment. If these things really are a priority for you, there is absolutely no valid reason to postpone them. Do you postpone your project deadlines everyday? No? Then why this disrespect towards yourself and your needs. I don’t know about you but I believe in equality. This means that I respect everyone equally, and I respect myself as much as I respect others – Boss, co workers,.. everyone. Your personal needs are just as important as the needs of your project.
I am doing important work, other’s don’t work as much. ..and they use unscrupulous means, and they are careless, and they are incompetent.. and so on and so forth. I have heard this from quite some people. A way of escaping the ‘harsh truth’ is to create an alternate reality and live in it.
Entering an alternate reality can be very beneficial at times. People enter alternate realities while watching movies or playing video games. This is fun and relaxing. It can be put to an even better use, for visualizing and self suggestion to help you achieve your goals.
It goes well if you keep it for a limited time and as long as you are aware that all this is virtual, not reality. But some people use this virtual reality for wrong reasons, for escaping a reality they find too hard to face. One common expression of such a case is when people tell themselves that they are doing something of great importance. They believe what they are doing is of utmost important. They also believe there is no one else competent enough to do it as well as they can.
If this is what you feel, I have some News for you, you are not the center of this world. It is not going to stop functioning if it were not for you. Even if you are the head of a country or large group of people, things will go on without you.
And exactly how important is your work? How many lives are you positively affecting through your work?
I am enjoying my work itself, I don’t need any other thing for fun. You cannot do something, even if it is fun, continuously for ever. Anything that is fun, will not be so, if you do it non-stop. You won’t notice it because the fun seeps out slowly. Years later, you wake up someday and realize that you don’t enjoy your work at all. You will realize that it became fun less long ago. It’s just a dull drudgery now, that you are carrying on with, for the sake of money, paying your bills, or worse, just for the sake of doing something. You can’t think of going outside your comfort zone and making it fun again, you are too lazy or too ‘comfortable with your discomfort’ for that.
Did this phrase surprise you, ‘being comfortable with your discomfort’? Ask a prisoner what he feels like when he is let out after many years. He finds the freedom too much to handle. He has grown too comfortable with his discomfort. Is it the same with you? Are you getting too comfortable with this cage you have created for yourself?
My health is OK as such. Health is a very practical friend. It doesn’t stay with those who neglect it. Youth has a way of deceiving you into believing that it will never leave, but it will. You might be young and your body can take a lot of abuse today, but it does get affected, and it will all add up. With waning youth, the resilience in your health will go down. Your body will refuse all the abuse it had accepted earlier. And, since you have made a habit of neglecting health for long and since your youth is past, you will find it very difficult to break this habit and form new, healthy ones.
While you are loosing your health for your work, it is your work that will suffer when your health goes. All the money you make now at the cost of your health, will go into the cost of regaining it.
Why wait till some disease hits you? Prevention is way better than cure. Take charge of your health. Respect it. A little effort now will be much easier and more fruitful than lots of effort and money when it is too late.
Same holds for relationships and a social life too. You can’t take them for granted. Respect them and they are the best of friends. Ignore them and you are left with loneliness for the rest of your life. Work on them, make the necessary effort, NOW.
In the next article, we will discuss what are the exact steps you can take for a better work life balance.
To be continued…