14th March 2016

Why It’s Time to Start Working With Your Physiology – Not Against It

I was tired.

I was physically tired.

I was emotionally tired.

Even my soul felt tired.

How did I get here?

It was the day after Christmas; 10 days after my daughter’s first birthday. I was sitting on the floor coiling Christmas lights when I began to try to stand up. Almost immediately, I sunk back down to the floor.

Six weeks after the birth of my daughter, I chose to jump back into the whirlwind of busyness—airplanes, travel and meetings—striving to build my consulting business. I spent the entire first year of her life haunted by my ego as I frantically tried to grow my business, serve my clients all over the world, and prove to myself that I was needed and valuable.

This was all part of something bigger for me personally. I wanted to live up to my image of the successful woman—smart, driven, professionally accomplished; a Mary Poppins mom; a loving wife; a leader in the community. That superwoman was my gold standard, and I had spent years, and especially the last year, trying to live up to it.

But now, on December 26, I’d awakened only to realize that as much as I was chasing the dream of the superwoman, I wasn’t living my life.

And the words of Socrates—”beware the bareness of a busy life”—were suddenly eerily real. It was time for me to face my fears and make bold choices about my life and the way that I worked.

I started to make these bold choices for my life as I worked to overcome my fears and build a life where I live fully.

One of my bold choices and realizations that I needed on December 26? Working WITH my physiology – not against it.

Physiological conditions can impact your energy level positively or negatively. If you were already tired when you tried to do something taxing, you had to fight an uphill battle. Chances are it took you twice as long and you made some missteps.

The goal instead is to create an environment that supports your energy needs. How to make that happen on a daily basis? Keep packets of nuts, granola bars, or dried fruit in your office drawer, handbag, briefcase, or glove compartment to help you stay properly fueled. Make a playlist of soothing or energizing music to help you relax or recharge—depending which you need—after stressful tasks and interactions.

There are days when the last thing you want to do early in the morning or late in the evening is exercise—who has the energy?—but physical activity matters. Counter-intuitive as it sounds, exercising can give you the energy boost you need. In a six-week study at the University of Georgia, researchers split people into three groups: one did a low-intensity workout, another did a moderate intensity routine, and a control group didn’t exercise. Both of the first two reported increased energy, and the low-intensity group actually reported less fatigue than those who worked out harder.

So don’t dash off to CrossFit. Simply walking or doing some light strength training is all it takes. Keep comfortable shoes in your desk drawer, car, or bag so you can go for a quick stroll—whether it’s to burn off extra steam or wake you up a bit.

That daily practice – whether it’s CrossFit or a 20 minute walk around the block during lunch – might give you the energy you need to power through your December 26.

These bold choices made me realize this – for many years, I prized my ability to produce significant amounts of work—my output. It became something I was known for, however, it came at a tremendous personal cost. There is work, and then there is the real work. That real work that has an impact on the bottom line, your clients, and your organization.