Taking care of one's self is of utmost importance to be fully successful and happy in life. If you don't have your health, everything else down the line will suffer. If you can't take care of yourself, then good luck taking care of other people and improving their health.
Being a strength and conditioning coach and trainer, I am a very busy person. I train clients 8 to 10 hours a day, five days a week on average. Sometimes that is nonstop without any real break. On top of this, I usually spend at least a few hours a week designing and updating programs for current and new clients. I spend a decent number of hours keeping up with reading and research. As if that doesn't seem like enough, I also spend time writing either for my website, my newsletter column or articles for other publications. Oh yea, now I am also going to massage therapy school three nights a week and work in the clinic every other weekend, and on top of that, need time to practice and study. With all of these things going on, there is no way that I could ever find time for myself right? Wrong!!!!! There is never too little time to take care of yourself. If I didn't take care of myself, not only would I be a complete fraud, but everything else that I do would go downhill. It all comes down to prioritizing and managing one's time.
Too many people make too many excuses for why they are unhappy, out of shape, in pain, don't have time for this or that and blah blah blah. The fact of the matter is that it is on the individual to make things happen with their lives and to figure out ways to make themselves happy. Many people work jobs that they hate, get no exercise (and if they do its usually useless exercise), eat like crap, and forget how to enjoy life.
Not too long ago, I read "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. It is an all around great book. A great principle he discusses in his book is "The Time Management Matrix." This matrix is made up of four quadrants. Quadrant I consists of urgent, important activities such as crises and deadline driven problems. Quadrant II consists of important activities that are not urgent such as prevention activities, relationship building, planning, educational activities and opportunity recognition. Quadrant III consists of urgent activities that are not important such as interruptions, some phone calls, popular activities and some mail. Quadrant IV is made up of activities that are neither urgent nor important, such as TV, video games, bar hopping, some mail, busy work, time wasters, etc.
People who manage their lives by crises spend about 90% of their time in quadrant one and the rest of their time in quadrant IV. This is not healthy or ideal. These people deal with excess stress and burnout which leads to a host of other problems (i.e. fat gain, depression.) To try to combat these problems, they go to IV and drink, smoke, etc. which ultimately makes things worse.
There are also lots of people who spend most of their time in quadrants III and IV. In III, they work on things that are urgent but not important. They think they are working on important things but in all reality are basing their own priorities on the priorities and expectations of others. In IV, they are basically doing useless and unproductive things. "People who spend most of their time in III and IV basically lead irresponsible lives." In my experience, these are the same people who constantly ridicule others for actually having goals and passions in life because they have none themselves. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. "Effective people stay out of quadrants III and IV because, urgent or not, they aren't important." By spending more time in Quadrant II, crises and pressing matters in Quadrant I can be limited and Quadrant I will be shrunk. "Effective people are not problem minded, they're opportunity minded."
In my opinion, spending lots of time in Quadrant II is essential to success. Continuing education through reading and research, taking care of your body with exercise, working on your career or business, building important relationships, etc. are all very important activities that improve the quality of life and lead to success. These are activities that lead towards a major goal. Everybody has to deal with urgent, important activities from Quadrant I but when preventative measures are taken, these things will be limited. And obviously, everybody needs a little bit of time here and there for pleasure activities from Quadrant IV; most people just overdo it, A LOT. If you haven't spent time today doing productive things from Quadrant II then get out of Quadrant IV; you haven't earned it. So what do I do to manage my time and live an effective life each day?
I absolutely love working out and training. I haven't had a gap in my own training in over ten years. I've competed in powerlifting for over five years and have consistently trained at least four to five days a week for as long as I can remember. I lift weights, perform conditioning, perform appropriate mobility exercises and stretches, do my appropriate corrective and prehab exercises, do my soft tissue work through the use of foam rolling and other various tools and work hard week in and week out to stay in great shape. I eat clean at least 90% of the time and to keep my sanity, endulge with a couple of cheat meals here and there. I am always sure to eat at least five to six meals a day and am sure to get plenty of protein, quality fats, lots of water, veggies, fruits, fish oils and any vitamins I may miss. Being strong, lean and staying in good shape definitely helps mentally with everything else in life. It is a lifestyle and has to be a long term, ongoing practice to be in top condition. Too many people want the quick fix and easy way out. Having a good, fit body just doesn't work like that. It takes years of hard work and dedication. My training is one of the top priorities in my life and has been for years. And guess what, I still have a LONG way to go and A LOT to learn. It is a continuous journey and I am sure to do something everyday to inch myself further on down the road, whether thats an intense, balls out workout or an off day where I utilize some tissue work for recovery.
I suffered a back injury that "set me back" with powerlifting. Did I just sit around because I couldn't deadlift max singles for a little while? No, I busted my ass bringing up weak points and fixing movement faults that contributed to the injury and previously held back my numbers. I utilized as many recovery modalities as possible to help with rehab. Now, I am almost back to normal and am going to come back better and stronger than ever. To me, the injury was a required wake up call and stepping stone in disguise to help me get to the next level with my lifting. I am too driven towards my goals with training to let something stop me. As a matter of fact, I have been feeling stronger than I ever have before and have been hitting some nice PR's as of late.
I am also just finishing up "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. This book is basically a classic business and success book that many successful people have read. In one section, he discusses some of the major causes of failure. One reason that jumped out at me that I have witnessed in people many times is the following. "Lack of a well defined purpose in life. There is no hope of success for the person who does not have a central purpose, or definite goal at which to aim. Ninety eight out of every hundred of those whom I have analyzed had no such aim. Perhaps this was the major cause of their failure." NINETY EIGHT OUT OF ONE HUNDRED!! That is pretty huge. If more people had goals, aspirations and passions, the world might be a happier place.
If you don't currently have something you are aspiring towards, perhaps you should do some soul searching. I think that a lot of people have things that they want to do or once wanted to do but just didn't have the courage to make them happen. Now is the time to make something happen. Its on you. Simple minded people will always try to bring you down to their level because they can't understand what you are doing. Guess what? Screw em. Do your thing and don't let anybody stop you or hold you back. Wanna get in shape? Get in the gym and make it happen. Wanna work for yourself? Find out what you need to do and make it happen. Wanna get better at your profession or better yourself as a person? Turn the tv off and pick up a friggin book for once. Make things happen for yourself!!!! Forget all the haters!!!
Managing my time wisely allows me to stay on top of all of these things and still have some downtime. If I have clients 8 hours and class 4 hours one day, I simply set aside 30 minutes here and 30 minutes there to get programs done. If I have fewer clients one day, I'll plan my workout there and get some reading and massage practice during any breaks. If I know I am going to be booked solid for most of the week, I mark time off to get my own workouts in. Since my weeks are so busy, I almost always take weekends off (though sometimes I have clinic for massage). This allows me to get effective workouts in, catch up on reading and programs, get odd jobs done such as washing the car, doing things around the house, etc and downtime to watch a movie, go out with friends and just relax. Taking leisure time here and there during the week is important also as going non stop 24-7 all the time would be a surefire road to burnout. What helps me is the fact that I enjoy what I do and enjoy all of the reading and continuing ed outside of training so I generally don't get stressed out.
One other major thing that is overlooked by many people is the importance of sleep. I usually try to be sure to get to bed at a decent time and not to schedule myself too early so that I can get enough sleep and recover from everything that I do. I don't think I would get too much accomplished if I walked around like a zombie all day.
If you have something that you want to accomplish, make it happen! If you don't have any goals then think of some. Get a solid workout in, read a quality book, do something special for someone you love, work on your business, do your job better today than yesterday, eat a healthier meal, do something positive to improve and better your life!!
In conclusion, I ask you: What have you done today to make yourself better?
So hopefully this article motivated you or remotivated you to do something great. Since the writing of this article, I have finished massage therapy school, taken and gotten certified in two Active Release Techniques courses, opened my own facility, have gotten back into powerlifting competition, have contributed to a great continuing education product (MIR), have read many more books, attended many more seminars and continue to bust my ass to get better physically, mentally and professionally every single day. Looking at this list of accomplishments, I am pumped and excited to see what I might add to it in another year and a half. I don't write this to brag or boast, etc. I'm proud of what I've done but have a long way to go. I write this to provide some motivation so that perhaps you will get that extra boost that you need to make something big happen for you.
If I were to write this article today, time management activities would change to actually doing soft tissue work instead of school, and working on my business would be added in. Training clients, my own training, continuing education and studying, etc. all continue to be solid and grow daily. I have new numbers I want to hit in powerlifting, goals for expansion and improvement with my facility and business, more courses I want to take and improvements I want to make as a person. Lately I have been trying to take more time to relax and have fun, which is good to do if you've earned it. Every day is one more stop in the journey and I don't know that the path will ever truly end. Why? Because there is always more to learn, always better numbers to hit and always improvements to make.
At the time I am writing this, I have a had a very productive day. From 6am to 11am, I trained multiple clients nonstop. At 11:30, I did some manual therapy. From 12 to 2, I trained. From 2 to 3, I studied. From 3 to 6:30, I trained more clients. From 6:30 to 7, I got some stuff done around the gym. For the past half hour or so, I have worked on this reposting/new writing. After this, I am going to go get a conditioning workout in for 20-30 minutes. Then I am going to study again for a little while. Then I will relax and maybe catch a show or game for awhile before I read “The Law of Success” until I get ready to fall asleep. And yes, there was food eaten throughout the day. To some people, this might seem crazy. To me, its just another day closer to reaching more goals. Instead of making excuses like so many do, prioritize your time, set goals and work towards them. Fyi, similar to training; after a heavy and busy day like today, tomorrow will be a lighter load. We want success, not burnout :) Train some clients, get a workout in, write programs, etc. Just like training, you can't go crazy hard with work every single day either. Work and train hard, but also work and train smart.
Surround yourself with others who think like this and you will go far. I am blessed to have a lot of positive, successful minded people within my circle that help with advice, motivation and success and would not be where I am without their help. Many people out there surround themselves with too much negativity and it becomes locked into their minds. Don't let others bring you down. Spend time with people who bring you up and who are better or more knowledgable than you. I see this time and again with clients. Those who are the most successful reaching their goals always have a solid support group both in and out of the gym. This is a must. Make every day a great one, keep getting better and make sure those around you are of the same mindset. Get after it.
So again, I ask you. What have you done today to make yourself better?