The congruence of our lifestyle choices with our goals is as much a predictor of whether we’ll meet those goals as it is whether or not we’ll enjoy the journey.
When I was young I could dance the night away, grab a couple hours of sleep, take a shower, drink a cup of coffee, and still show up for work on time and never miss a beat. It rarely occurred to me how much more effective I could have been on the job with a healthier lifestyle, and when it did, that thought only lasted as long as the next party.
Fortunately, for most of us, the lifestyle choices we make change over time as our careers and families become more important than being the life of the party. That doesn’t mean we don’t have fun, it’s just what we find fun changes as we mature.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for us to replace the time we spent having fun with time spent working. Sixteen hour days, fueled by energy drinks, and then a large evening meal, might work in the short term, but not over time.
In our culture, as medical practice has started to shift from “heal your illness” to “keep you well”, opinions are changing regarding the importance of a healthy lifestyle. In our parents time almost everyone smoked and stopped off for a drink, or several, after work and few people exercised. Today it’s rare to meet a senior executive who smokes, drinks excessively, and who doesn’t get some form of exercise.
Our culture is also finally beginning to reclaim the need for balance in our sleeping habits. It wasn’t long ago that someone who claimed he didn’t require more than four or five hours of sleep a night was admired. We can all get by on four or five hours sleep in the short term, but it doesn’t take long for our judgment and motor skills to become impaired.
Regardless of the responsibilities of our current position we have to adjust our daily activities to insure we have balance. An executive for an international company can expect conference calls during hours she would typically be asleep as well as some overseas travel so she must figure out how to adjust her sleep pattern. An executive at a manufacturing company can often expect to be at work before the first shift starts and to be there until that shift ends and the next shift is well underway might take time in the middle of the day for lunch with his spouse or a workout at the gym.
Understanding how to match our lifestyle choices to the requirements of our personal and professional lives gives us the mental and physical energy to perform successfully at work and the fuel we need to enjoy our personal lives.
Isn’t that what it’s really all about?
Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups. Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released in 2017.