How to be good to yourself?

One of the courses that I have taught over the years is Personal and Organizational Ethics. While the focus of the class is ethics at a personal level, the connection to the practices of the organization is discussed at length.The main takeaway is that an organization must practice the very ethical codes that it wants its employees to embrace. Otherwise, the impact of the training is severely diminished.  Basically, practice what you preach (or expect) as an organization.

We also talk about other ethical practices such as doing good for others.  While doing good for others is important, we must do good for ourselves too.  I believe that it is incredibly important that we take care of ourselves so we can take care of others.  Helping others should not make us martyrs; although, some people enjoy being a martyr.  A balance between helping others while taking care of ourselves could be similar in our attempts to maintain a work/life balance.  We need to make compromises on all the things we want to accomplish.  We need to reduce the self-imposed pressure which can take a toll on our health and relationships.  Slowing down is an option.

Now for those who know me, I am a workaholic.  In addition to my full-time job, I usually have had a part-time job where I pursued interests that I enjoyed; in particular, teaching.  But with this busy schedule, I’ve been able to go camping every year, be a fantasy football fanatic, solo ride my Harley to Alaska, and take five weeks off to hike across Spain.  Last year, I started Dychelon.  I have been busy, but I really try to make time to enjoy life.

How can we accomplish our goals, be good to ourselves, and enjoy life?  There is a progression of actions which we can embrace.  The actions we take lead us down the path toward living a better life.  It is what we all want to achieve.  We will sometimes fall short of our goals, but moving in the right direction has great benefits.  It is our daily practices which shape our lives and happiness.  Here is what I suggest and what I try to embrace.

  • Remove self-imposed pressures: Successful people are driven.  We will achieve our goals through hard work and persistence.  Our success takes effort.  But take the time to enjoy yourself while being a driven person.  We place so much pressure on ourselves to achieve at our self-determined pace, that we may be moving faster than what is needed.  By slowing down, we can create a better product, improve our relationships, and have the time to see important parts of the world around us that we are missing.  Let’s not be so hard on ourselves.
  • Technology: We have time vampires in our lives.  Time is the one aspect of our lives that we cannot replace.  Once we use it, it is gone forever.  While we must make the best use of our time, consider how much time is wasted because of technology.  There are some strategies to keep technology from unnecessarily consuming our time.  These are goals worth pursuing.
    • Technology Free Day: I have yet to have a technology free day.  But I have had technology free workouts, sleep, and reading sessions.  The strategy here is to have periods of time where I will not have technology interfere with a specific part of my day.
      • Sleep: I turn off all notifications for my phone when I go to sleep.  If there is an emergency, someone will come knocking on my door.
      • Meals: No phones while eating.  Keep it face down on the table.  Also, you do not have to take every call.  Give yourself some flexibility.
      • Reading: Don’t let your phone or laptop interrupt your reading sessions.  Stay focused on your reason for reading.  It is an opportunity to learn without technological distractions.
      • Fitness: Use your technology to enhance your workout.  Don’t let it become a distraction.  I turn off all notifications while working out so I can focus on fitness.
      • Evaluate: Consider other parts of your life where technology is consuming your time, affecting goals, or impacting relationships.
    • Fitness: Take the time to be physically active.  Working out has a number of benefits, but choose the right program for you.  I enjoy weightlifting and some moderate cardio.  But that works for me.  Too many people who are fit promote the workout programs that they embrace.  There are plenty of options and pick the one that is right for you.
    • Sleep: Get as much as you can.  At least six our if possible.  In my profession, being up for 19+ hours is a common occurrence.  Studies have shown that being up for that amount of time is the equivalent of being legally impaired by alcohol when driving.  Lack of sleep affects decision making, our perception, and our generosity.  Have a plan to get at least six hours of sleep during the week and preferably eight hours on the weekends.
    • Curiosity: Be inquisitive and seek out different perspectives to make yourself increasingly well rounded.  I have learned over the years that so much information and solutions offered in one area of expertise can be applied to other disciplines. This open-mindedness can provide you with creative ideas and solutions.
    • Ask for Help: Reach out to others when needed.  As over-achievers, we may fall into the trap of trying to do all the work alone.  Or worse, we try to make important changes/decisions without any input from others.  If you need help, reach out to those who will offer a genuine assessment and critique.  This alternative perspective can provide you with critical insight that you may be missing.  The ability to move one’s pride/ego aside to seek assistance is a needed skill.  It will make your solution better and more effective.
    • Comparison: Make every effort not to compare your life to that of others.  It is beneficial to admire the accomplishments of others and the process they followed to be successful.  You have a goal and a plan.  You will get there through time, effort, and persistence.  But it is your timeframe for success.  Don’t confuse your path with the path of others.

These are a few ideas on how to live a less stressful life.  It may not be easy, but the effort is worthwhile.  Pick one of the recommendations and improve upon it today.  Make a bigger improvement tomorrow and continue on to the next day.  Once you are satisfied with your progress, pick another idea and begin the improvement process.  Small wins in our lives lead to great victories.


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Al Cobos is the owner and lead consultant for Dychelon which improves team performance and promotes successful team building.  Al has successfully built teams over the past two decades.  He has over thirty years of public sector experience in addition to teaching for several universities.  His focus is to improve people in their personal and professional lives.

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