At work, I was on my way to the kitchen – I walked by a large conference room that had a video feed up. There was a camera pointed at the hallway. I saw myself on video and said “What the hell? I look like death warmed over!”
In my quest to be a healthier version of myself, I had to do three things: accept/make no excuses, stop seeking permissions and make my time a non-negotiable commodity.
We live in a world of excuses when it comes to making time for ourselves.
Make a way out of no way. “There’s no way I can eat right.”, “No way I can work out today.” Not before work? Not at lunch? Not after work? Can’t take 10 minutes to walk at lunch?
I had to interrogate my own excuses. There’s no way I can make time to eat right? Really? None? Bullshit. I can’t make breakfast at home? Find a healthy alternative while you’re out? Drive a half mile further to get something different? You can’t pack a lunch?
Most of those times, we’re bullshitting ourselves into excuses instead of admitting that We Don’t Want To Do It or that It’s Too Much Work.
Some things are Too Much Work. I weigh my food and count calories. For some, that’s a bridge they won’t cross. I felt I had a portion control problem, so I decided to be stringent and accountable for what I was shoving into my gullet instead of simply feeling bad about it later.
We give it all of our time away then blame Other People for our shortcomings. I couldn’t go to the gym because of my coworker. I got a last minute assignment from some Other People.
Other People’s expectations will steal your time. Put a cap on how Other People suck up your time.
Other people will always give you more to do if you allow it. I have to force myself to be balanced. No one else can do it for you.
Other People can make us feel important and give us an ‘out’. It also allows us to be a martyr. Save the day for Other People at our own expense all the time.
Working hard with insane hours sometimes makes you feel important. But taking time away from that and balancing sometimes reminds you that the world will go on without you.
I never believed in all-nighters. Never pulled one in college. I believe in proper planning and rest. The sign that I *had* to stay up all night to take a test meant that I planned poorly and didn’t study in advance. I also know myself – when I try to work when I’m exhausted, I make more mistakes.
I was working on a prototype for a client a few years ago, and was put onto the project late. And it was in deep trouble. I had to work from home that day, and there were folks in the office I was working with. My computer blue screened (Thanks, Windows XP) and I said “screw it”, and drove into the office at 10pm. I worked until 7am, turned in the prototype, and saved the day. Yay me. Yay us.
I would have been done sooner if I didn’t make a huge mistake at 5am and spend an hour backtracking my steps trying to make sense of what I did. Every time I work ridiculously late or when I’m tired, I make mistakes.
Look at me! I made the project work! But I shouldn’ve have had to do that. When I see our teams at work brag about how a group of 10 people had to work 80 hour weeks for the last three weeks before launch to catch up, I think “damn, there’s something wrong there. I wouldn’t be proud of that. That’s a failure in planning and scoping somewhere.”
I wrecked my sleep pattern for the next week just off of that one day. I had to drive home and sleep from 8-2, and felt like I was drugged. I vowed never to do it again.
Ignoring your own health to prove your importance is a sucker’s bet in the end.
Other People will let you skip what’s important to you if you don’t take time to do it. No one will care more about your well-being than you will. Most people won’t say, “hey man, get outta here” or “Go and run”. You have to take your own time back.
It can make us feel important if we’re always sacrificing our time to do something admirable. Maybe you can’t leave work cause a project is hellish. Maybe you can’t find childcare, you’re a single parent, your spouse works insane hours, You’re working in a submarine, etc. There’s always a way to find time to get out of a rut. You may not like your options, but there are always options. Situps and pushups at home. Walking instead of taking a bus. Parking further away.
People never take the time to say “man, you look like hell” if you’re burning the candle at both ends, but will be happy to say how great you look if you take care of yourself. As a matter of fact, they won’t care, as long as you give them what they want. When you finally get sick from stress or poor health, they’ll shake their heads and say “tsk, tsk, he should have taken care of himself.” But no one wants to give you time.
I feel better as a result of my efforts…and while I’ve slacked at times (new job, high stress)…I’m in a far better position than I was 1.5 years ago.