Fitness First Work Second
It is interesting being a stereotypical male.
I am in my late forties. I have a wife, two teenage daughters, a mortgage and everything that goes with these. I have a full time job that helps me pay for all of this and a little bit more.
I am very lucky.
I have also hurt my back – which is a significant component of this blog. I have discovered that I am, in fact, mortal.
As a stereotypical male, I have certain expectations of myself. I expect to look after my family. I expect to be able to put food on the table.
However, I also expect to be able to have some fun and to do what I want to do, preferably when I want to do it.
At which point, suddenly money or time comes into the equation. Having more $$$ or hours (and preferably both) allows for some “wants” rather than always concentrating on “needs”.
We NEED food, we need a roof over our heads, we need to be and feel safe.
We WANT overseas holidays, new iPhones, big screen TVs, a day out with the family, a new car.
So, as a stereotypical male, I go to work. My wife does too, but given that she is a stereotypical female, she works part time so that she has the time to take our children where they need to go, such as to school and back. Which is great and it works well for our family.
I enjoy that sometimes we argue (nicely) about who actually gets to take our girls somewhere, because we both want to do it 🙂
Because I have been “at work” for many years, I have found myself in various roles and jobs that I haven’t really enjoyed. Yes, they’ve helped me pay the bills, and for that I am once again very lucky. However, overall these have not been a positive experience.
Moving into a new role relatively recently, I found myself being the enthusiastic new guy. I was trying to make a good impression – and I was working hard in my white collar IT office job in a big building in the wonderful world of corporate Australia.
I am far from being unhealthy, but I was not eating as well as I should, I was not doing any exercise, I was going to bed late and getting up early. I was putting in arguably more effort for my work than perhaps was necessary.
As a lot of stereotypical males do.
Then I hurt my back.
I pushed through the pain. I soldiered on. I kept smiling through the tears. I kept on keeping on.
Over a couple of months my back stabilised, but did not recover as such. I kept struggling.
Then I hurt my back again.
Then my boss sent me home, which in retrospect was a good thing. At the time, however, it was very embarrassing both professionally and personally.
I then spent several months flat on the floor – literally.
Slowly my body is recovering, with the help of my physio, doctors, exercises, my wife and daughters, some rest and some re-assessing of what is important.
Yes, paying the bills is important.
But so is physical and mental and emotional health.
I was surprised at how much my mental and emotional health relied on my physical health. Once one of these falls apart, the others are not far behind.
While lying on the floor, I realised that I wanted to remove my financial reliance on my full time job. While I don’t dislike my current job – and there are days when I actually enjoy it – if I had a massive lottery win this weekend, like most people I suppose, I would not hesitate to not turn up on Monday.
So – I have been spending a lot of my spare time learning about side hustles, online income and internet shenanigans.
I’ve dabbled with this for years, but it’s only in the last 12 months or so that I’ve been trying to take it up a notch.
The problem is, now that I’m recovering, I am finding myself slipping back into my old habits. I am working too hard at work again and now potentially putting in a bit more effort in my online side hustles than maybe I should.
I am very motivated, but is that a good thing ?
Or is that going to hinder my physical health again ?
I am learning to listen to my body and listen to my mind. I am trying to avoid burning out. I am trying to pace myself. I am trying to put my fitness first and my work second.
Are you ??
Chris Ducker is a well-known internet entrepreneur who has a very informative podcast. He sometimes interviews people on his podcast and in one such interview he discusses the terrible burnout experienced by his guest Mariah Coz.
Chris Duckers Youpreneur FM podcast episode 224 – How One Femtrepreneur Beat the Heck Outta Burnout, with Mariah Coz.
Quite simply, Mariah kept working – even when her body was telling her to stop.
Eventually she was forced to stop. She recovered over a period of several months, but then she over-did it again. And needed several months off again.
Perhaps not quite to the extent that Mariah experienced, but this is exactly what I did.
She has learnt from this experience. I am hopeful that I have too.
Chris has also learnt how to avoid burnout, and how to recognise the signs that maybe it’s coming.
Chris Duckers Youpreneur FM podcast episode 131 – Avoiding Entrepreneurial Burnout, Without Losing Business, or Your Health!
Listen to your body and listen to your mind. If you are tired and unhappy, then perhaps your body and mind are trying to tell you something.
Physical Fitness does not necessarily mean that you are training to compete in the next Olympics.
Mental Fitness does not necessarily mean that you must practice enduring hell on earth or be immune to things and experiences around you.
Emotional Fitness does not mean that you cannot laugh, or cry, or worry, or stress.
Fitness in the context of this article is having the strength and capacity to recognise that eating healthily, drinking a bare minimum of 3 litres (100 fluid ounces) of water every day, getting plenty of rest and time out, behaving responsibly (parties are good, but all-night-sex-drugs-rock-n-roll-boozeups 7 days a week are not), bathing and generally looking after yourself is actually a REALLY good idea.
It’s like the oxygen masks on a plane during an emergency – you need to put yours on first before your help anyone else, because if you don’t look after yourself, you won’t be able to look after anyone else.
Take one step at a time. Move forward slowly, but surely.
Fitness First, Work Second.
Small wins grow into big wins.
Yes, there are times to work long and hard. But these should be brief at best and are arguably not necessary at all. Recognise the difference between needing and wanting to work hard.
What is really important ?
Yes you probably need to go to work, because there are bills to pay. This is unfortuantely a fact of life.
However, do you really need to do the 3 hours of overtime or extra work EVERY night this week, or next week, or every week ? Do you need to spend 11 hours each day (including commute time) at your full time job, then spend another 5 hours each night working on your side hustle ?
(Remember – wants and needs are different !)
The corporate catch cry in the 2000’s has been “Work / Life Balance”.
I put it to you that perhaps it should be the other way around.
“Life / Work Balance”
Life should come first.
Schedule some downtime.
Turn off the phone.
Watch the TV.
Read a book.
Go for a walk.
Do some exercise.
Play your musical instrument or listen to some music.
Play your sport.
Do some yoga or some pilates.
Relax – maybe with the help of some meditation.
Know when to work, know when to not work.
Schedule some fun time.
Have a holiday.
Go to the movies, or to the local park or the beach.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Proverb: Continuous work without rest or relaxation is harmful to one’s personal life and well-being.
Do things with the people that you love.
If you see some roses, why not stop and smell them ?
Here in Australia, there is a well known chocolate bar, called a Mars Bar. While I do not wish to promote their product (although they are good !!), their advertising slogun is spot on: “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play.”
If anything can help someone work and rest and play then I think that is a good idea. Perhaps a metaphorical chocolate bar in this context every day is a good idea.
P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for my email list (you’ll get some goodies to help you relax and recover from injury plus some tips for building your online businesses).
P.P.S. How many hours work do you do each week ? How many hours work per week do you think is too many ?