Do you struggle to find a reasonable and sustainable balance between work, play, and taking care of yourself? If the answer is yes, rest assured that you are not the only one. It seems these days, that many people have embraced the “work hard, play harder” mind set. The struggle then however is with getting enough rest. If the body depends on rest to recover and refuel, and that’s the first thing we forgo to keep up with our life goals, then unfortunately, our health can take a very serious toll. How do we build stamina to achieve our goals physically and mentally?
Although most people associate western culture with materialism, we see it a bit differently. At MYND MVMT, we have dubbed it “the achievement culture”. We see it not as a race for money, or more material gain but as a race to climb the ladder of achievement! “Get to the top!” and “win!”. Pounded into us from our first breath to our last, achievement is where we get our sense of worth- our value! We are taught to keep striving for more, to climb higher, go further, whether we’re in the right job for us, in the right relationship, in the right city, or whether we’re even happy at all.
In order to tolerate this “strive or die” mentality we create stories to justify to ourselves the crash course we are on. We say things like; “If I just work really hard this year, then I will have enough in the bank to finally take time off.”; “If I just get promoted once more then…”; “If I stay until I make my next bonus, then…”. These well intended, and at the time heartfelt, sentiments play over and over- always striving for “just a little bit” more! Unfortunately, many of us get so busy achieving that we forget to live life! We ignore the present moment like it’s an inconvenience, too busy racing to get whatever it is we think we “need” for later.
The question is, at what cost?
Eventually the inevitable happens. We hit a wall! We start to feel unwell, mentally, physically or both. We get stressed, we burn out, we get anxious, depressed, we start to feel overwhelmed, slowly beginning to come apart. That’s when the medical health problems begin. Maybe it begins with fatigue, high blood pressure & cholesterol, panic attacks etc. Worse yet, if we continue to ignore these signs, our bodies effort to tell us to slow down, that’s when medical problems can, and do, get much more serious.
This is commonly the point where we turn to medications for help. We think we can medicate ourselves to get our health back in order, forgetting about the underlying issue that created the problem in the first place.
Thanks to the mind and body having been split by the scientific community dating back hundreds of years, the typical treatment protocol treats the symptoms of the problem rather than the problem itself. Having been taught that the body and mind are two separate entities, we don’t connect the dots that the mental stress we put on ourselves manifests physically. The truth is, that the body and mind are intimately connected, two sides of the same coin, and it is impossible to find balance if we keep trying to separate them.
Here Is the Good News!
The good news is there are ways to achieve all that we want and still be happy & healthy. It does however require some work. Through my own personal experiences and from watching the people in my life, I have recognized the three biggest traps we face that make us feel a lot less powerful than we really are: Watch for these in your own life to see whether
The Achievement Culture (society)
The problem with the achievement culture is that we have conditioned ourselves to exist at a pace of life that makes it almost impossible to slow down! As a result, we wake up with, and spend the majority of our time activating our inner “critical narrator” voice. In order for us to be able listen to our real self, the inner voice that tells us what we really want and need in our lives we must slow down and do the opposite of what we have been so utterly brainwashed to. That is climb this invisible ladder to greater and greater achievements. To get good grades, get a degree, get more degrees, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, and eventually retire. Whether that’s what we really want or not!
The Corporate Trap
Recognise that the money, the promotion or whatever else it is you are being promised down the line, is a tool to keep you trapped in your current position, whether you want to be in it or not. Getting the promotion becomes irrelevant if ultimately, you are not happy. Happiness is a state of mind and not conditional upon getting what you want.
You Are Not a Victim
Probably the sneakiest trap of them all is the one we set for ourselves. It is so easy to convince one’s self that we are in a situation because we “have to” be! That it’s just the way it is to be trapped because of the way society, or the corporate world, is. So long as you believe this to be true, you make it almost impossible for your situation to ever change. For things to change, you must first recognize that you are the only one with the power to do so.
So Then Now What?
Recognizing these traps is one thing but taking steps towards moving on can be a much greater challenge still! Knowing where to begin can be tricky, so here are four simple ways to start the process:
Switch Off and Slow down
Give yourself space (from everyone and everything) at regular intervals, to really switch off and slow down. My partner has a monthly ritual where he goes away for a weekend, checks in to a hotel (preferably with a spa) and locks away his phone in the safe for the entire stay. He then spends the weekend taking walks, reading books, exercising, having spa treatments and eating well. This is an excellent way to re-set the system while giving yourself the care and attention you deserve. And it gives you a chance to slow down enough to start finding that inner voice.
Shift your attention
Allow yourself to shift your attention and let go of the past and future. Find what you enjoy! Do things that feel good, and are not on the “should” list! Figure out what makes you feel empowered at this very moment and allow yourself to embrace it completely in the here and now!
Do what’s right for you
Recognize that you have no control over your environment, only of your reactions to your environment. Take charge of those reactions! Be deliberate! Think about how you want your day to go before you engage it! Take charge of your day to day decision making. Start to connect with what it is you really want right now! For example, what do you really feel like having for lunch? These little things make a world of difference!
Shift from reaction mode to creation mode
Rather than reacting to the circumstances in your life and letting them control you, start creating your own reality. One way is to start asking for what you want in the small situations. For example, telling your cab driver which direction to take or; asking for changes to your meal at a restaurant or; telling your loved ones that you’re going on a fishing trip or; telling your boss that you cannot take on that project or that you do want that project. Eventually, you will realize that you have the freedom to create the life you want most.