A lot of us are heavily motivated by the idea of being as successful as possible, and forging professional lives for ourselves that make us wealthy, respected, and set us up well into the foreseeable future.
There’s a lot that gets said about the importance of discipline, focus, a well-honed professional vision, ambition, and all the rest. And that’s not just idle talk. All of those things are certainly important if you want to have the most successful professional life possible.
A key thing to remember, however, is that it’s not only grinding hard and being ambitious that leads to success. In fact, if you tyrannise yourself and drive yourself on without any rest or compassion, it’s highly likely that you’re going to burn out and fail to meet your potential, rather than rise above the challenges that are confronting you.
If you want to be as successful as possible in life, then you’ve got to take care of yourself.
Here are a few reasons why that’s the case.
Rest enhances your work capacity
The old saying “work hard, play hard” has today more or less come to mean “spend a long time at the office, get really drunk on the weekend.” That’s unfortunate, because it robs the original saying of a lot of its inherent wisdom.
It’s a simple fact that when you exert yourself in any given area of life, you fatigue your body and mind, and will be working at a reduced capacity until you’ve allowed sufficient recovery time and resources.
Fitness fanatics are well aware of this basic principle, because it’s an essential element of successful resistance training. Anyone who goes to the gym seven days a week and bench presses on each day, will quickly find themselves feeling absolutely terrible, and wondering why their bench press performance is stalling, and their muscles don’t appear to be getting any bigger.
Ultimately, the bench press itself is only the stimulus for growth and adaptation. It’s the process that breaks down muscle tissue and stresses the central nervous system, so that the body can utilise resources such as essential nutrients, to repair the tissue and make it stronger during a generous recovery period.
Just as grinding away at the gym without any rest will ruin, rather than improve, your physique and health, so too will working endlessly without rest ruin your work capacity, rather than boosting it.
The brain is an organ like any other, and when you overtax it and don’t allow enough rest and recovery time, it’s not going to perform as well as it should. On top of this, the emotional strain of grinding away around the clock will quickly make you unproductive.
Work hard and rest hard – not at the bar, but at the dinner table, on walks in nature, at relaxed gatherings with friends and family, and in bed.
Living a life of integrity gives you resilience, creativity, and self-respect
It could well be argued that the most essential element of “taking care of yourself” is living with integrity, in a way that makes you proud of yourself.
Many people, when they’re trying to make a success of themselves in their career, will do “whatever it takes” to succeed, including being unscrupulous.
This is bad morally, but it’s also a bad idea practically. Living with integrity boost your resilience, creativity, and self-respect. Living amorally, on the other hand, only makes you more apathetic, nihilistic, and less resilient over time.
Dealing with your health and wellness removes obstacles from your path, and helps you to perform at your peak
If you’re dealing with serious chronic health conditions, or nagging issues that get in the way of your ability to navigate the world seamlessly, it goes without saying that you’re not going to be operating at peak performance.
Exercising a bit of self-compassion, and dealing with health and wellness issues can serve to remove these obstacles, and dramatically enhance your ability to work effectively with the tools you have available.
If, for example, you’re hard of hearing, then refusing to get checked up or have the issue investigated or corrected is not going to do you any favours. On the other hand, visiting a hearing instrument specialist and getting yourself a properly tuned hearing aid, can remove a lot of tension from your life, and can consequently increase your ability to perform at a high level in your career.
Ignoring health and wellness issues and driving on regardless may make you feel “tough” or “committed,” but unless there is no other choice, this is a bad way to go. Being mindful of your health instead of ignoring it can not only make you feel a lot better, but can also significantly boost your workplace efficiency.