Recently I’ve been hearing of so many cases of people reaching burn out within various sectors. Especially within the corporate sector, where people are leaving the profession as they just can’t give any more to the job.
The common theme being gruelling long hours and not being able to slow the mind down and switch off. The feeling of guilt not replying to emails in the evening, not having the laptop open has been chipping away to many a person. Life is literally passing them by.
Having recently read about how top athletes who, after pushing their bodies throughout training sessions also understand the importance of the downtime is for the body to regenerate. Enabling the body to rest and repair.
What we seem to forget that the mind is the same, it needs the downtime to calm, rest and repair. The Goldie Hawn mind up programme teaches children about brain breaks during the day and aims to train teachers in establishing a routine of around 3 brain breaks a day where children meditate for a few minutes calming the amygdala down, it’s a great programme and a great habit to teach children from an early age.
Surely the same concept can go for us adults within our working day. But let’s take this further. The rat race of the last 20 odd years has seen a society hit breaking point where the elastic band has been pulled so tightly that there isn’t much room to expand.
As a society where did we think that this was a good way of living our lives? To the detriment of people’s health, working crazy long hours and for some people these hours are just being able to keep a roof over their heads. Let’s take the story of the fisherman as an example:
A boat was docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.
A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and… asked how long it took to catch them.
“Not very long” they answered in unison. “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”
The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.
“But what do you do with the rest of your time?” “We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life.” The tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”
“And after that?” “With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!!! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”
“How long would that take?” “Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.” replied the tourist. “And after that?” “Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”
“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen. “After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”
“With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?” asked the Mexicans.
And the moral of this story is: Know where you’re going in life, you may already be there! Many times in life, money is not everything.
“Live your life before life becomes lifeless”
A wonderful moral within that story for many of us is that we actually might be living the life that we want to be living and maybe not recognising how rich it actually is. The richness comes from within.
Let’s take two different couples as an example, both sitting on the beach watching the sunset, one couple are in their 2-man tent parked next to their car having a cheeky weekend away together, the other couple are in the luxurious 5-star hotel dining on the best food.
However, at that exact moment of sitting on that beach both couples are experiencing the same sunset on the same beach within the same moment. That specific memory has nothing to do with where they are staying or how rich or poor they are. It’s to do with the experience of being sat on the beach. Taking in the memory, being present and in the moment. How often do we miss out on the memory making whilst we are chasing bigger dreams? How often do we miss the smaller things that can make us smile? The beach memory is free. For me now, I’m equally happy in my 2-man tent on the beach or in that 5-star resort. Its more about the memory making and being present and being grateful for ALL of my experiences (and yes even the negative ones, as that’s where the learning’s lie)
I remember purchasing my first motor home with my husband. It was a 20 year old vehicle, and when we bought it I was so excited, it was a childhood dream come true. We had so many wonderful trips in it and making fabulous memories with family and friends.
18 months later, we visited a motorhome show and my husband sat in this luxurious motor home which was a remarkable beast. He looked at me and said “I’m not leaving here until we buy this” he vary rarely spoke in that manner, so I knew he meant business 🙂
This was a 5 star apartment on wheels. We did leave that day having purchased the beast and also enjoyed many a wonderful trip in it.
However, when I look back at the 6 trips we did around Europe each one being 5 weeks long, my memories are not one of the luxurious camper van with its under floor heating, two double luxury beds, power shower and a fridge bigger that what I had in my own home, the memories are the places, the people, the company. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful to have been able to purchase such a luxury item, but it didn’t change my view on our trips away. Having made some great reflections on those trips, it was the fact that I could go away for the length of time and see beautiful countries and make memories that were more important. Having the luxury vehicle was a bonus, but the memories weren’t any different from being in our 20 year old camper to the new one. I remember vividly my husband saying to me once about our trips:
“Trace, our destination isn’t the holiday.. the journey is also part of our holiday”.
He was right, along the journey we would randomly stop and have lunches by lakes, come across random beautiful towns and park up for evenings. We would leave campsites in the dark so that we could chase the sunrises. Parking up, cooking breakfast with the smell of fresh coffee, sometimes near sunflower fields, lavender fields or vineyards, watching the sunrise in different destinations was magical. Those trips were precious, and we did had a good work life balance.
I have been one that does ensure I do what fills my soul, for me that is travel, so I make it work for me. Whether that is working remotely in a different country or hiking beautiful parts of the World. I didn’t create my business for me to be in it for long hours at a time, even though at times I have needed to, but I’ve also made sure that there was a trip or a break at the end of that busy time. I built my business so that I could be flexible.
Our journey is a huge part of our lives. Remembering: if you do have a destination that you’re aiming for or that goal, remember to enjoy that journey also. If we are working the long hours? am I enjoying my downtime with family in the evenings? do I enjoy my weekends? or am I too tired? Do I have that balance? What does that balance look like for me?
The question I’d like to ask:
When was the last time you lifted your head and looked around you? what do you actually see on this part of your journey? Are you seeing the beauty of what we already have? or are we seeing what we haven’t got?
Why is it that we hear comments of ‘when I win the lottery, I will be so happy?’. A lot of people who do win the lottery aren’t much happier, why? because unless you are happy within and I mean truly happy within the money is a short-term fix. We buy that new car from the money; excitement and happiness are there for a short time but eventually that internal feeling will creep back in.
My advice, find how out how to get that inner peace that inner happiness, invest in you? learn about you? learn how to get that inner peace. Stop, take a deep breath and look around, what is it that you really want out of your life? we are all different, for me a big part of my life is seeing beautiful places around the world, learning, passing on the knowledge and helping others, hiking, spending time with people that matter to me. It will look and feel different for each and everyone of us.
Learning how to let go, learning how to breath properly, learning to quiet the mind, learning gratitude, this is the biggest lottery win and who knows maybe if you do win the lottery it will be a bonus and not a necessity in your life : )
Are you already living the fisherman’s life and maybe just forgot that you are doing so?