I know several men who sacrifice their health and well being at the expense of their jobs. I used to be one of them.
Being a business owner or self-employed, I think we can develop an unhealthy and unrealistic expectation that we’re not allowed to “drop the ball” and consequently we don’t realize the importance of scheduling enough time for rest and recuperation.
This can end up harming not only ourselves with decreased levels of health and happiness but also our loved ones through our absence and lack in enthusiasm in their lives.
Several years ago, my work / life balance was so distorted that I would only take “time off” when I reached the point of becoming ill. I distinctly remember spending my one-week holiday, which I’d somewhat begrudgingly allowed myself, lain flat on the coach, miserably sick with a virus, almost certainly from working too much and resting too little, unable to enjoy the time off.
I began to change by identifying that I had a habit of putting work tasks above my own needs and deliberately doing something beneficial for myself before starting the working day. This was as simple as going for a 20 minute walk each morning and listening to Philosopher Notes (aka book summaries). The physical exercise and mental stimulation gave me a renewed sense of optimism that I could create an ideal, balanced life with a fulfilling career.
During the same miserable week, I also came to the realisation that my own selfish food choices were having a harmful impact on my whole family. I was telling my children to eat healthy and giving them foods which were advertised as healthy …but I wasn’t attending my own lectures and demonstrating to them healthy eating habits.
This was primarily due to my own ignorance when it came to food and its purpose. I began to learn about nutrition and drastically altered our family’s diet with the full support of my wife. With better quality fuel in my body and the beginning of a lifelong fitness habit, I gained more momentum.
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”Mahatma Gandhi
You can trade your health for money, but you can’t trade your money for health. Why is it that some of us invest so many hours into our careers and barely any into our health and fitness?
If we want to live a long, full life then we need to place great importance on our health, both physical and mental.
In my opinion, our work should support our life, especially our health and wellbeing, not the other way around. Therefore, I propose that we prioritize our health above our work. One way I do this is by exercising before the workday begins.
I know from my own experience that I feel energized, have greater confidence, am more emotionally balanced, and have higher level of optimism on the days when I prioritize 25 minutes of exercise, usually running.
I use outcome goals such as running a Spartan Race, as well as process goals e.g. running 4 times a week, to keep myself motivated and exercising consistently. I’m also mindful to set intrinsically motivated goals (feel great today) as these are proven to be more effective than extrinsically motivated goals (have six pack abs).
I also ensure I’m not “active and sedentary” by using movement reminders throughout the day to simply stand up or maybe do a set of burpees. I’m also on the lookout for OTMs (Opportunities To Move) such as parking in the carpark the farthest away from the supermarket or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
So much of what has changed though has been my mindset and gaining more awareness about the unhealthy habits that I’d accumulated over the years.
The reason I believe Movember does such a great job in raising awareness of men’s health is that they bring a level of humour to the conversation while remaining sincere about the cause. The symbolic Movember moustache still challenges many people’s beliefs about societal expectations placed on men and the type of men who grow them. For me, I now associate a man with a moustache in November as someone who truly cares about their health and that of other men too.
I’ve been a Mo Bro, an official Movember participant, for 5 years but decided to 10X the money I raised last year ($500) and aim for $5,000. This means 10X the effort and 10X the creativity will be required but it also means 10X the impact and 10X the fun.
For example, I’ve turned myself into a walking billboard to promote the fundraising with branded t-shirts which I plan to wear everyday for the rest of November. My wife even suggested the kids wear them too …so we’ve got them a shirt each too!
For those wondering about the absence of a shaven face: I’ve grown the Movember Mo on previous years and am instead this doing a Movember Move challenge of 120 Km, hence why I’m still sporting a stoic beard. Perhaps I could shave it off at the end of the month for additional donations and do Movember in reverse haha.
My MOtivation for this year is to help raise more awareness about men’s health and specifically to encourage men to make their health a higher priority than their work. What one simple step could you take today to start on the path to a healthier you?
If you enjoyed reading this I’d greatly appreciate you share it with a friend you know who needs a reminder to take better care of their health or make a donation on my Movember page:
I am a lover of wisdom. A father blessed with two affectionate, joyful daughters. A husband to a kind and patient wife. Inspired by stories of self-actualisation and a personal growth enthusiast.