During July of this year I was taking part in a 28 day writing challenge, instigated through an exclusive Facebook group, I am privileged to be a member of, called the BetterMan Brotherhood. It’s a mastermind of like-minded, driven individuals “dedicated to being faster, smarter, stronger and harder to kill.” As put by the group’s founder Erik Kruger. I wrote a piece entitled Burnout and this was chosen to be featured, alongside other great content, for the Spotlight on the Brotherhood post on the BetterMan website. I discussed the value that I obtained from experiencing Burnout and what I have learned from this experience.
Having said that, burning out is not an ideal outcome of hard work. It can cost you your time, your health and even your relationships. When it does happen recovery is not easy. So as valuable as the experience of burnout can be, what can you do to prevent it?
My simple answer is balance! It is crucial to ensure you are spending enough time on your work, on your family and most importantly on yourself. The best way I have found to create balance is with routine! It’s important to have a routine and to stick to it and also to ensure that routine has balance. That means that anything that crops up must fit around your routine, not the other way round and your routine must encompass all spheres required for a healthy lifestyle. Your routine is your safety net, it is what grounds you and keeps you stable in tough times. Yes there will be times when your occupation or family have to take precedence, when things are too hectic to stick to your routine fully. In this case I suggest trying to stick to one thing, perhaps the one thing that brings you the most joy or simply the one that is best for you. Personally I choose some type of exercise. Keeping the body active is vital for maintaining your energy levels, improving memory and just being happier. But whatever it is just stick to it, make it consistent. You can add other items back, slowly, when things are not so hectic.
Here’s the morning routine I use to ensure I get everything done and do not neglect my health, my relationships and especially myself.
4:30am – Wakeup. The habit of rising early has allowed me to get so much extra done in the day. There is quiet and calm, no ringing phones and no emails to distract you. It also relieves the added stress rushing can impose and gives a sense of accomplishment before you even leave the house.
4:35am – Meditation. Being mindful has been one of the most important and impactful elements to my routine. It allows me to see things more clearly, where my thoughts and concerns lie, helps curb anger and frustration and allows me to enter the day without judgement or stress.
4:50am – Daily Script. I read a script I have written in my journal, to kick start my day, consisting of the following.
o Gratitudes – a list of what I have to be grateful for and the reasons why. “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie
o Affirmations – characteristics I am cultivating, things I want to change and the parts of myself I like and want to be reminded of. “You will be a failure, until you impress the subconscious with the conviction you are a success. This is done by making an affirmation that ‘clicks’ ” – Florence Scovel Shinn
o Purpose – a specific, comprehensive and moving account of what I want out of life and how I am going to get there. Taking into account all my goals and aspirations and compressing them into a single page that is so compelling it pulls me towards my objectives like a freight train. “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
o Achievements – I recall moments I am proud of, not as a measure of narcissism or vanity, but to give me the boost needed to conquer the day. I say to myself something like, “If you have managed to run a marathon then whatever today has to throw at you will be a breeze in comparison.”
o Practice Loving Kindness to Increase Love and Compassion – This is a kind of meditation where you repeat 5 things you want to bring into your life (practice) and the life of someone else (May I be happy and may so and so be happy etc.) Sit, stand or lie down, take slow deep breaths, open our palms. Recite your wishes, in your mind, paying special attention to the meaning. Continue until you feel it and are enveloped in loving kindness, I like to visualise what it will be like to be that thing or experience that emotion. Repeat the same for the other you want to send well wishes too. “We all are so deeply interconnected; we have no option but to love all. Be kind and do good for any one and that will be reflected. The ripples of the kind heart are the highest blessings of the Universe.” – Amit Ray
5:20am – Prepare for the day. Eat a healthy breakfast and ensure I have a healthy meal prepared for lunch. This will help productivity and reduce stress. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
5:50am – Gym or Side Project
- Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I go to gym, I have already mentioned the benefits. “Living a healthy lifestyle will only deprive you of poor health, lethargy, and fat.” – Jill Johnson
- On Tuesdays and Thursdays I work on my side projects. This is something just for me, something I care about and gets me fired up! A study at San Francisco State concluded that workers with a creative hobby were more helpful, collaborative and creative in the workplace.
Then I’m off to work. I spend two nights a week working on side projects and three with my Girlfriend. Weekends are mine to do with what I want, go for runs, see friends, hikes, dinners with the Misses, anything!
I have found plenty of resources, a few are listed below, I have used to dial in my morning routine like clockwork. I have loads more to say on this topic, so in future posts I will breakdown some of the elements of my routine and how I arrived at them in more detail.
It feels amazing to have conquered so much before the day has even begun and with this routine I can ensure I get the time to do everything that I want and everyone gets what they want out of me.
Practice Loving Kindness to Increase Love and Compassion from DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition, by Marsha M. Linehan.