During my recent trip to Ireland (recap coming soon—spoiler alert: IT WAS THE BEST!) I needed to record a couple episodes of my weekly podcast.
The woman who owns the manor I rented out graciously hooked me up with one of her friends: a talented musician who had his own recording studio. Just a few miles down the road.
Could I pop into his studio for a few hours?
“Not a bother,” he kindly said.
After the session, this fella and I started chatting. He’d been listening to my podcast recording sesh and he found my sassy stories and anecdotes pretty amusing. He wanted to know more about what it’s like to be a professional life coach.
I explained that I work with clients on a variety of topics: weight loss, body image, lifestyle, relationships, business, changing careers. I also told him my backstory—how I left an intensely stressful career in residential real estate, discovered life coaching, and how that was the beginning of a total 180 degree turnaround of my life and career.
I asked him tell me about his work, too. I mean, he’s a professional musician and recording engineer! Seems like a total dream gig.
He chuckled and said that he probably “could have used a life coach” to help out with his own career, a few years ago.
I did not expect to hear him say that.
I asked him to say more.He explained that—a few years back—he was thrilled because he had finally created his “dream career.” He was writing music and playing gigs at local pubs almost every night. Plus he ran his recording studio and did audio engineering and editing every day. He got to collaborate with amazing artists, he was making terrific money, and everyone congratulated him on his success. “Making it” as a full time musician is no easy feat!
He was on top of the world.
There was intense exhaustion.
And later, the panic attacks began.
“What now?” I asked. This shocked me. He seemed so cheerful and laid back. It was hard to imagine him “panicking” about anything.
He explained that his body began to send him all kinds of signals that something was not right. After a few months, he experienced a total shut down. His adrenals were shot. He could barely pry himself out of bed.
“I love my work—but back then, I was working 90 hours a week,” he explained. “I was exhausted.”
Fortunately, he made some changes and these days he’s doing much better.
His story provided me with a big, important reminder—one that I needed to hear, and that a lot of my clients need to hear as well:
“You can still work yourself to death… even if you are doing “what you love.”
I don’t care if you’re a cupcake baker or a puppy groomer or a full time visual artist who paints positive, uplifting messages onto canvases. You can have the most delightful, charming, wonderful job in the entire world—but if you’re over-working to the point where your body is breaking down, it’s not OK. Sooner or later, you are going to completely crash and burn.
Find work that you love—yes, absolutely!—but schedule in time for rest, nourishment, unplugged time, socializing, and unstructured daydreaming and playtime, too.
This is not “optional.” It’s mandatory. Your body is a living organism—not a machine.
Take a cue from my new Irish friend:
Do the work you love—without barreling along at an insane, unsustainable speed. Pace yourself. Set limits. Work less. Rest more.
We often fear that “working less” means “less money” or “less success,” but I’ve found that the opposite is usually true.
Take excellent care of your mind, body and spirit and the quality of your work will rise—along with the quality of your life
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