Would you sit back and twiddle your thumbs while a competitor poached your customers and employees? Would you blow off-network security until a vicious virus crashed your computer system? Doubt it. When it’s business, some of us are laudably proactive. When it comes to personal issues, however, too many of us have upside-down priorities. We wait until a crisis body slams us before contemplating the possibility of making better choices.
From exhausting to exhilarating
The more I balanced the scales of my inner life, the more my thinking shifted. Like a gosling trailing its mother, my behavior followed suit. I started to realize I deserved better for—and from—myself. That inspired me to give myself more fully to the people I worked with, lived with, and cared about. Wellness became my holistic bank account, a metaphor established by stress-research trailblazer Hans Sale. Withdrawals are poor food choices; sleep deprivation, emotional tension, and other life stressors. You make deposits with exercise, healthy meals, meditation, and supportive relationships.
It all adds up
Bottom line: High-level wellness will help you run your business better and longer. My cancer was a blessing in disguise. Cliché? Maybe. But it jolted me into recognizing the consequences of diet and lifestyle. My attitude had been, As long as I’m not sick, I must be healthy. But that’s like saying you won a tennis match because your opponent never showed up.
Not losing isn’t the same as winning—it’s not even close. Just as your opponent forfeited the match, if you don’t show up as your own wellness advocate, you may be forfeiting your health. Distill wellness down to two words: cumulative effect. As nutrition author Adele Davis cautioned, “Every day you do one of two things—build health or produce disease in yourself.”
Health problems—whether physical, emotional, psychological, or even spiritual—don’t “break” overnight. The seeds are often planted early in life in the form of poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and a negative attitude. Watered by steady neglect, they can germinate undetected for years, even decades. Then, boom, they sprout, take over, and overwhelm everything in their path. It’s like driving a car for months or years without an oil change and then “suddenly” it burns up and shuts down.
Until my early forties, I often felt sluggish and foggy. In those bleary-eyed days, I knew I wasn’t operating at peak efficiency. I sensed I was missing something but didn’t bother giving it much thought. I certainly had no intention of changing my behavior—not until a malignant tumor grabbed me by the throat and nearly squeezed the life out of me. Lemma tells when the Grim Reaper pulls over and offers you a ride, hitchhiking your way to Introspection City is a little more appealing.
Bottom line: The choices you make today determine the quality of your relationships, health, and effectiveness at work in all your tomorrow. It isn’t about living longer; it’s about living better. Right now, today, with greater vitality, mental clarity, and energy to burn to run your business and your life. As harsh and unforgiving as it sounds, life stares each one of us in the eye and demands, Pay me now or pay me later.