“Don’t be so busy striving to make a living that you forget how to live a life” ~ Robin Sharma
On the way to drop my child to school, I see many people going to work in expensive cars but puffing like a steam engine with bags under their eyes hunched behind the wheels or slouched in the back seat. I am not against expensive cars but I feel pity for the way they are paying the price for these “comforts” and “social status symbols”. Sadly, these people most likely do not even get the time to think where they are going or how to maneuver a course correction and achieve the same or more but in an enriched manner.
Times are changing fast. We are in a constant race to achieve more and work much harder to “secure” the elusive future which has many variables and unknown factors beyond our control. It is in this race that we forget what we truly have in our hands – our present.
While working on a feature about German small businesses, I read and learnt about certain typical features of German life which helps them become successful. They have a strong segmentation of professional and private time. They strive not to mix them. At work, they give their 100% and focus on their responsibilities and excel. When they are off duty, they focus on some activity of interest or the other and enjoy that too. They do not appreciate people calling them to discuss work in their private time.
Many of us often believe that long hours of work means we are more productive, we are getting lot more job done and attribute our success to that. But why aren’t our companies innovative enough, why are we not growing faster, why aren’t we growing bigger, why are competitors catching up with us every day?
Innovation or creation of a business edge happens when we have the time and the space to think differently or rather more intently. We are so bogged down with our day to day tasks that we rarely sit back and introspect. Success is not assured with working 18 hours a day 6 days a week. This is mere drudgery and many people can do the same hence the competition.
Man is a social animal as we learnt in school. We need to be in touch with others, we need to get rejuvenated and refreshed to function better and we need to connect with our inner selves every now and then. What we need today is serious work life balance to become more successful.
Work life balance is nothing but splitting your time into serious productive work with defined goals and objectives and periods of unconstructive activities to allow the brain cells to relax and regenerate. We gain in many ways.
· Reduces stress, improves physical well-being. In times of pressure and work we often stop breathing evenly. Fatigue sets in both physically and mentally. This leads to stress and make our organs work harder. And we are all aware of the lifestyle issues due to stress. Stress has directly effect on our physical health.
· Quality of life improves. We start appreciating things around us, things we often fail to notice in a rush and start acknowledging the same and feel more comfortable and happy. You get the time to improve and enrich your thoughts and become a better person to yourself and not only for the community. It gives you the time to think where you are going and what you are truly trying to achieve. Are you focused on the means or the end?
· Performance. High performing people regularly take a break and do other activities that they love to boost their internal strength and refresh themselves. They are more productive and efficient. They take newer initiatives and are more likely to be successful.
· Innovation. A rested and refreshed mind is more likely to come up with innovative ideas than the one fatigued and tired with heaps of routine repetitive tasks. If you are too tied up with daily work and you are bound to the system, when will you get the time to step out and think from a distance?
· Control. You achieve better control of your life thus better control of your job or business or responsibility that’s on your shoulders. When we do the same thing again and again we stop thinking and then we start missing the warning signs. Hence, we need to rest and restart.
· Motivation. A rested and happy mind is more motivated to take up new challenges or new tasks than the one which has become slow, overburdened and on the verge of breaking down.
· Enrichment and Satisfaction. Let’s say you are doing an amazing job, achieved huge targets and made a difference. But did you get the time to sit back and savor it or are you running endlessly while others are enjoying the gains.
Your hard work and seven figure compensation might have helped you buy a 4BHK duplex apartment or even a house with a garden. You might own a Volvo XC60 or a Jaguar sedan even but who is actually enjoying it? How much time do you spend in that house compared to say your servant? Or how many times have you been behind the wheels of that exquisite car that you own? The ornate sofa that you bought for your drawing room, when was the last time you sat on it and enjoyed a cup of tea with the day’s newspaper? I bet you never thought about this.
What should I do?
· Take up a hobby
· Watch a movie, go to the theatre,
· Get involved in a new activity – bake a cake, gardening, walking, swimming, singing, take up any sports, playing an instrument – anything that keeps your mind in action while not causing any stress. Do something that does not have a milestone just a road to follow and stop wherever you want, whenever you want.
· Simply lie down in your bed and read a book or listen to music
· Pick up the cricket bat, gather 3-4 people and play a game with the dustbin as your wicket.
· Do something random and unstructured – simple sit and chat with a friend about mundane things not business targets and labor issues.
· Sit by yourself. Spend some time alone and think of nothing at first. Calm your mind. Watch your breathing. Slowly start talking to your inner self and listen too. Think of what you are doing, what you (not what you have to do for your family) would like to do, how you can do it. There is no harm or guilt in thinking for you every now and then. It is one life that we all get.
It is never too late to start relaxing a bit and getting rejuvenated. Summer is here. Take a short vacation and enjoy. Your work and responsibilities are always going to be there waiting for you. The present is what you have. Appreciate it.
Loosen up. You are never too old, too professional, or too accomplished to laugh and be silly. Allow yourself to play. Let your inner child out and enjoy your life. ~ Tavis Smiley