I have been reading Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by Dan Lyons and I have been amazed that intelligent and incredibly talented people have become so obsessed with working for a Silicon Valley startup that they are willing to sacrifice not just their private lives, but their dignity and health as well.
Our work should be enjoyable and fulfilling, but it should not become all-consuming. Work is something we need to keep us mentally healthy. It gives us a purpose and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It also provides an income so we can put food on the table and enjoy the benefits of living in an amazing world that allows us to travel to far off places that would have taken months to get to just 100 years ago. But that does not mean we should allow work to consume all our time. We need rest and relaxation too.
One reason you need time for yourself is to preserve your ability to be creative. Our creative ideas do not come from sitting in front of a computer screen twenty hours a day dealing with the same issues. They come from nature, from getting outside and spending time with friends and family and the experiences we have when we are not doing our work. You will never improve your skills doing the same stuff every day over long periods. To improve your skills you need time away from your work.
But far and away the most important reason you need to be taking sufficient rest is for your health. If you are not taking care of your health, then no matter how much money you earn working in a slavish startup culture, it will not be beneficial to you as you will not have the health, energy and vitality to enjoy it. Sure, you might think because you are still young you can slow down and take care of your health later, but that rarely happens. The damage you do to your health today will come back and haunt you later. Heart disease, back, shoulder and neck problems develop when you are young, and become debilitating in your later years. Is that obsession for money really worth that sacrifice?
Instead, you should be developing yourself. Building healthy, positive habits and seeing your work as a purpose. Developing real meaningful friendships will always be better than developing a network of acquaintances you only use to further your career.
Here are a few ideas that will go a long way to helping you develop the right mindset for a healthy, positive life.
Always make time for yourself
This needs to be a daily activity. Whether you meditate, exercise or journal you need time each day for yourself. Giving yourself thirty to sixty minutes each day to do something you love doing will give you the necessary mental space to relax, have fun and focus on yourself. Exercising, walking and meditating are three activities that should form a part of your daily life. It does not mean spending hours in the gym or out running, it just means you get around thirty minutes of physical activity each day and some quiet time to reflect and relax.
Never sacrifice your sleep time
As more and more scientific research is being published on the debilitating effects of not getting enough sleep, we should all be aware now of the dangers of persistent lack of sleep. Without the right amount of sleep each night, you will never be able to perform at your best. So take some time to work out how much sleep you need and make sure you get that each night.
The long-term damage consistent lack of sleep does to your health is just not worth it. Trying to do an all-nighter might sound heroic, but the reality is you are not going to be doing your best work or be efficient if you are in a state of sleep debt. You’d be far better stopping, getting a good night’s sleep and returning to your task refreshed and alert the next day.
Review your personal goals and objectives once a week
When we allow ourselves to become absorbed in the daily grind we lose sight of what is important to us as individuals. We are constantly fire-fighting at work and never stopping to look up to see if what we are doing is important to us as individuals.
This is why each week you should be reviewing what you have done and asking if what you did that week aligned with your personal goals and objectives. If your goal is to start your own business, for example, how much time did you spend developing your business ideas? How much time did you give to yourself and your personal relationships? If you spent all your time on your work issues, then you know you need to adjust things so you are giving yourself time to work on what is important to you.
Spend time with the people that matter to you
Relationships are important. We humans are social beings and we need that connection with people that matter to us. If you are not spending time with the people you love and instead spending all your time in your place of work thinking when I am rich I will be able to spend more time with my friends you are deluding yourself. Money never replaces real friendships. And you will never feel you have enough money.
Make sure you spend quality time each week with the people that matter to you. It will give you more balance and happiness than money ever will.
When you take a little time each week to work on yourself, your health and your relationships you will have far better balance in your life, you will find yourself much more relaxed and your creativity will explode. Now that’s a far better way to live your life than being a lab rat chasing something that will never bring you long-term happiness or health.
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