I spent 8 months living in an office and completely destroying my body, to learn an incredibly important lesson:
Your health has a far more important effect on how much money you’ll make, or how successful you’ll become than most people probably realize, or are ever willing to admit to themselves.
And to make matters worse, most people usually do not realize that they have a problem until it’s too late.
This isn’t something a lot of people really talk about, so in this article I’d like to highlight more about its importance, the hidden effects poor habits take on your productivity, and practical steps to start turning your life around.
How This Realization Came To Me
This is going to sound a little bit ridiculous, but perhaps you can relate.
I’ve always been the type of guy that slammed a ridiculous number of hours into my work schedule. To the point where, as mentioned, I lived in my office, slept on an air mattress that kept popping, and slowly became miserable as it began to wear down on me.
I think as entrepreneurs, a lot of work hours that – let’s be honest, probably aren’t exactly healthy for us.
Now in my case, working crazy long hours was what I felt was necessary. I was conditioned that way, buying into the philosophies of all of these internet gurus, and believing that all my problems could be solved with more work hours.
And, as you find out (as you grow to the point where you’re living in your office), there’s a limit to that time. But I kept pushing it, consequences be damned.
It wasn’t until I got to the point where I was so physically exhausted, tired, and miserable that I was hardly getting anything done, that I realized just the impact this was having.
Now you may thinking, ‘No kidding James, you idiot. Anyone could’ve seen this coming.’
The thing is, as you go through the process of transitioning from a healthy to an unhealthy sort of lifestyle, it creeps up on you.
It’s not like you wake up one morning with say, a bad headache. Where there is a clearly defined beginning and end point, with a lot of contrast between the ‘before’ and the ‘after’.
This sort of thing can happen over the course of months or even years. Time goes by and you don’t realize you’ve gotten a little worse, because it becomes your ‘new normal’. And if you don’t change anything, it just keeps going and going until suddenly, you realize you’ve become a completely different person.
For me, this came in the form of complete exhaustion, brain fog, a lack of energy, weight gain, a lack of self-discipline, and even depression at times. You may also see it in things like addiction, impulsiveness, irritability, apathy, or even physical disease.
I gave up a good diet, a proper amount of sleep, exercise, and a healthy work schedule because I thought it would make me more money. I thought it would help me hit my goals more quickly. In reality, it ended up costing me everything that was fueling my success in the first place.
It wasn’t until I started looking at my health as some sort of quantitative metric – something I could put a number on, that I started taking it seriously. Not just in terms of productivity either, I mean, think about it this way. Hospital visits are really freaking expensive. Imagine you do work yourself half to death and ‘make it’, but then spend tens of thousands of dollars on medical bills, or have some chronic condition that you’ll never get rid of. This actually happens to people, and that’s a really scary thought to me.
Healthy Habits, And Improving Things For The Better
It’s easy to tell yourself, “I feel fine” or, “I’m not experiencing any medical issues, so I have nothing to worry about.” And okay, fair point.
But have you ever had a day where you just woke up, and felt completely amazing? Perhaps you felt 10 years younger, you were full of life, everything just seemed right with the world?
It’s an incredible feeling, isn’t it? Now what if you could feel like that every day? What if that became your ‘new normal?’ I mean, your body has already proven that it’s possible. Keep this in mind while I explain this next bit:
The problem most people have is that unhealthy habits snowball.
You skip exercising because of a minor inconvenience for example, and now every time you experience a similar inconvenience, it becomes easier to justify skipping your exercise a second time.
Then you feel worse, because you failed to do something you committed to doing, which hurts your confidence.
You begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed, so you start using something unhealthy to cope. Video games, adult movies, alcohol, whatever it is.
The dopamine fix from these ‘quick pick-me-ups’ numbs your brain’s pleasure response, leading to less fulfillment from the other, much healthier habits. You don’t have to have an addiction to begin experiencing the effects of it, even on just a subconscious level.
All the negativity in one area of your life, spills over into the other areas of your life. The drop in self-control and discipline makes it harder to turn things around, even if you realize that you have a problem.
Do you see how they all sort of fuel each other? This is the reality for so many people, and causes them to get stuck in vicious cycles like this. I’ve seen it time and time again with the people I’ve coached over the years and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to pull yourself out of.
Here’s the important point that I want you to know:
Just like things can spiral out of control, getting worse and worse, it can also happen in the other direction.
One win builds on another, and it not only gets easier to do what’s difficult – it becomes natural.
It may seem that discipline itself is the key to all of this. But I would argue that it starts with making healthy choices.
You know what I’m talking about. Eating right. Exercising. Avoiding unhealthy habits. Actually going to the doctor when you suspect something might be wrong, something I still struggle with. And for entrepreneurs, specifically allotting time in your schedule to take breaks, relax, and partake in non-work related activities.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that by doing all of this, you’ll feel better, mentally and physically. You’ll feel better about yourself, too. You’ll have more energy, you’ll think more clearly and creatively, your focus, self-control and discipline will improve, you’ll experience less stress and you’ll be overall, a far happier person.
It’s truly transformative.
Wouldn’t you agree that those things will undeniably help you make more money and take you even further in life, than an extra couple hours of work each day would?
I understand that when you really think about all of this, it sounds pretty obvious. It really does.
Yet time and time again I see people sacrifice everything else that’s good in their life, for the sake of work. It’s a very dangerous approach that I fell victim to myself and it nearly destroyed me.
The time you spend exercising, preparing healthy meals and getting adequate sleep are worth more to you than if they were spent working. They are a multiplier that makes the rest of your day more effective – so don’t neglect them!
Finally, if slow business progress is what’s led you to this point, be sure to check out this article – What To Do When Business Progress Seems Slow. It will help you get things on the right track and I’m sure it will be immensely helpful for you.
To your success,
– James McAllister