I love my work.

That old cliché of ‘choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’ totally applies to me.

I consider myself very lucky to have found a career and business that I love and I am also acutely aware that I have used that love, for a very long time, as an excuse to not take care of myself.

I like to call it ´Sophisticated Sabotage´.

The Willing Workaholic knows damn well that they are using their work to cleverly cover-up the fact they are choosing not to prioritise their physical and mental wellbeing (amongst other things).  Not because they don’t care about their health but because they enjoy their work so much.

And to be honest the Willing Workaholic isn’t looking for work-life balance.  They are in fact perfectly happy with their perceived lack of balance.

They are actually looking for more ways to spend as much time doing the work they love and not feel guilty about it.  And if someone can find a way to help them get some exercise whilst also working ….. well that would be brilliant.

But as much as I hate to say it – to love your work more than you love yourself is just downright crazy and I am guilty as charged.

So as I headed into my forties I knew I was going to have to find a way to make some big changes or there would be a price to be pay later down the line.

But there were some fairly hefty hurdles:

  • I have never liked working out
  • I don’t like going to the gym (or wearing lycra)
  • And I have never been ‘athletic’

I knew if I was going to make lasting changes I would have to do things differently and in the words of Frank Sinatra … do it ‘my way’.

So I decided to use my Willing Workaholic tendencies to my advantage and these have become my ultimate guide to dedicating much of my time to the work I love and not at the expense of my health.

Working and Exercise Can go Hand in Hand

I knew that I loved walking and it would be my exercise of choice but instead of listening to my tunes I downloaded some really interesting podcasts and all of a sudden I was learning, entertained and exercising all at the same time.  Instead of begrudging ‘wasting’ my time exercising – I was now allocating time to download the podcasts I wanted to listen to and looking forward to my walk in the morning.  AND because I was enjoying my podcasts so much I was now walking for longer and more frequently.  I am now averaging 20,000 steps a day!

Being Active Enhances Your Creativity

On the days that I didn’t have an interesting podcast to listen to I would consciously take time to just enjoy the walk and smell the roses.  Of course my mind would soon wander back to work but I quickly discovered that when I was out walking new ideas would pop into my mind.  I would find solutions to challenges I had been thinking about.  I seemed to be tapping into a well of creativity that I couldn’t access when I was sitting down.  I had found another ‘work’ related reason to put my trainers on and head out for a stroll.  I now consider this a superpower – when I am looking for answers I go for a walk.

Build a Routine and Rhythm That Suits You

Were I to listen to traditional wisdom I should be up at 5am in the morning, going for a jog, eating clean and all that jazz.  That was never and will never work for me.  It is so important to build a routine that works for YOU.  Choose a form of exercise you enjoy.  Find the most natural time in your day to fit that in.  What else do you enjoy doing and can you get exercise doing that at the same time?  Keeping your natural rhythm in mind and your activities simple and easy for you to follow are at the heart of a sustainable and enjoyable healthy life.

Reflect on The Cost of Being a Willing Workaholic

The hardest part of my health journey has been to face up to the cost of focusing exclusively on the job I love to the detriment of my long-term health and wellbeing.  The Willing Workholic often neglects the fact that there is a cost to their life choices. I attended a 10 day detox in Portugal last year and found myself admitting out loud that I was choosing to make my work more important than my health ….. and that really hit home.  As much as I love what I do and I want to be successful – I will not be able to continue doing what I love if I don’t change my priorities.  My health and my love of my work now go hand and hand.

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