Monday 30 June 2014

We love the challenge but is it good for us?

"I will fight for peace - but if we ever get it I'm out of here - I like the challenge" 
These words resonated as I reflected on this blog that arose from personal insight, and a common theme that has emerged with clients in recent coaching sessions. The words here are my personal reflection but they also echo those heard in these coaching sessions. 
We know what keeps us healthy - so why is the lure of constant doing so high that we ignore our own long term sustainability - might the thrill of the challenge be the answer? 

A few years ago I had cause to re-evaluate the speed of my life. My body had had enough constant doing, was going through its own transition from one phase of a woman's life to another and ground to a halt.

Since then I've been acutely aware of the energy reserves I have daily that enable me to do what I need to do. I've tweeted and blogged often about the things that make a difference - many shown in the bitrebels infographic above, and also here in my prescription for positivity

What I've noticed is I may start doing all these 'positivity' enhancing activities but as the period without a holiday increases one by one these behaviours from my daily routine disappear. It's as if the constant need for doing takes over and gathers pace - more, and more, and more 'doing' to do. As this 'doing' takes over:
  • I start to skip lunch 
  • I forget to undertake exercise or cancel it from my diary
  • Breaks away from the computer are abandoned, and are replaced by connection to social media and emails
  • Food eaten becomes more and more processed, and more likely to be accompanied by my laptop/ipad
  • Sugar is used to provide energy when I'm flagging (if caffeine was my thing I'm sure that would take front of stage too) 
  • Laughter and silliness are infrequent companions
  • Quiet time is replaced with work and doing (for me my leisurely contemplative time in the bath in a morning is replaced by a quick perfunctory shower)
  • Time with friends gets cancelled
The clues, when I eventually notice them, come from realising: 
  • I'm feeling guilty if I've not worked 10 hours in the day or go to a 8th birthday party at 1700 on a Friday eve
  • I've lost all perspective of what's important and it's the end of the world if I miss a deadline
  • and increased irritability 
I suspect you may have other examples - increasing smoking or drinking alcohol are common reactions. Or perhaps taking your mobile to bed, and checking emails before turning the light off and again first thing on waking, or even in the middle of the night.

For me the 4 day break at Easter earlier in the year wasn't enough to reset this pattern. I emerged a little slower and refreshed yet it didn't take long before the 'doing' replaced the 'being' once again.

In 2004 I spent 8 weeks on holiday in Australia. It was only after week 3 that I truly felt my 'doing' had been reset and relaxation and a sense of perspective appeared. I was surprised then as I reflected on what I had seen as priorities that really weren't! 

How can we regain perspective when we're not allowing ourselves more than a few days away from work and those 'important' emails? 

When I set up my own consultancy and coaching business it took me 2 years after leaving full time employment to be able to reflect on my 'doing' and realise I'd let it all get out of kilter and balance, and had lost sight of what was important. 

Recently after 8 months of full time working with the same client I can feel some of those old patterns reappearing. How easy I realise to fall back on old patterns even if I know they won't support my long term sustainability. 

I'm not alone, perhaps I just think about it more than others, and I still don't know the solution. Like many addictive behaviours I find reasons for supporting 'doing's' continued need for existence. At some level I'm really enjoying the work - getting a buzz perhaps from the frenetic nature of the work - from the challenge. I'm mentally and emotionally healthier than I have been for ages. The question remains - for how long can the body put up with this? At what point will my body say "enough".

This challenge has me reflecting on the ICECAPS checklist. The final letter is S and stands for sustainability. Retaining our personal ICECAPS requires that every day we consider our personal sustainability when making lifestyle choices - the same as it does for the planet.

Me - I'm planning a holiday - Santorini sounds like a great idea. What about you?

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out - in procurement and in business. 

1 comment:

  1. I didn't go to Santorini I went to Spain. Here's the blog I wrote on my return