Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “I’m going to neglect my family and health today.” Yet every day, millions of people do exactly that.
Why? Because we’re so focused on success at work, we forget about why we’re working in the first place.
When you’re younger, you hustle, put in the hours, and focus on your career. As you grow older, you add more responsibilities — maybe a spouse, kids, and a mortgage. The problem is that you end up so focused on the day-to-day responsibilities of work that you lose sight of what you’re working toward, and forget that life outside of work actually supports your success.
I’ve worked with hundreds of people who all wanted to achieve more in their careers. Time after time, I’ve seen that one of the most effective ways to improve performance at work is to focus on life outside the office. Here’s a list of a few things you can do to get started.
Pay attention to what’s truly important
Take a minute and think about the most important things in your life (your family, your health, hobbies, etc.). Now draw a circle with spokes coming out of the center (like a bicycle wheel), and at the end of each spoke, write down one of these things. We call this the Wheel of Life.
Think about how satisfied you are with each of the areas on a scale of 1-10. You’ll probably notice that you’re doing really well in some areas, and not as well in others. That’s completely normal. You also may be surprised to see how low you score in some areas. These things happen over time, and you may not notice that there are issues — especially if you’ve been taking certain things (or certain people) for granted.
The goal isn’t to be perfect, but to make sure that every “spoke” in your Wheel of Life is strong enough to support you. After all, you might be able to ride a bicycle if a few spokes are bent, but when there are too many that are bent and broken, eventually you’re going to crash.
Wake up. Get coffee. Go to work. Come home. Eat dinner. Sleep.
Sound familiar? It’s easy to drift through life on autopilot, just following your daily routine. But you’ll be healthier, happier, and more productive if you make deliberate choices throughout the day.
Maybe that means getting a piece of fruit instead of mindlessly reaching for a bag of chips. Maybe it means putting your phone in another room and spending an hour building something with your kids. Or maybe it just means thinking carefully when someone asks for your time, rather than automatically saying “yes” to something you don’t really want to do.
Invest in yourself to get dividends at work
Maybe you can spend an hour at the gym, or 20 minutes shopping for fruits and vegetables, or just five minutes doing some morning meditation. Maybe you can spend Saturday morning at the park with your kids, go see a movie with your spouse, or attend a religious services.
Add it all up and you might think that you’ve “lost” 10 hours in your week. But when you spend time building your relationships and taking care of your mind and body, you end up more focused, fulfilled, and full of energy.
If you invest in areas outside of work, what you get back ends up having a significant multiplier effect at the office. You’re able to better discover new opportunities, provide deeper insight, leverage your relationships, and advance your career.
Fight for what makes you most effective
Top performers get what they want. If you consistently outperform your peers, you’re going to get more leeway. And the better your results, the more leeway you’re going to get.
What if that means coming in at 9:30 a.m. so you can go to the gym every morning? What if that means no meetings before noon so you can focus on critical projects? What if that means going home on time every day to have dinner with your family?
Your job is to be relentlessly committed to setting boundaries and creating the world that makes you the most effective human being. Nobody else is going to do it for you.
The most successful people identify what they need to do to be exceptional — and then take intentional steps to get what they want.
The average person will work 90,000 hours in their lifetime. By focusing on all aspects of your life — including being intentional, investing in yourself, and fighting for what makes you most effective — you can achieve more than you ever thought possible in your career.
Marty Maddin is a leadership and performance coach, and owner of PEAK Performance International in Huntington Woods.