When 2020 rolled in, I was deep in the throes of a personal crisis. I was single, about to turn 30, and although I was working 60 hour weeks, my career was going nowhere and I did not seem close to achieving success. Each day I would come home from a 10-hour shift and just fold down on myself. Exhausted from the day, I never had the time to take a step back to reflect on my day. Instead, I would use the remainder of my energy to eat before going to sleep and then starting the same routine all over again the next day.
I desperately looked forward to weekends, but when they arrived, they weren’t much of a reprieve either. Between chores and errands, the day and night flew by without as much as an extra hour of sleep.
Tired of being rescheduled, again and again, my friends drifted away, and my family felt ignored. Even my health suffered; I was so busy working that I hardly took any time for myself. My unhealthy food habit of pre-cooked foods, caused me to gain weight. I was sleeping less than 6 hours, and not getting enough exercise. Being able to spend any time on my hobbies seemed so impossible. An abandoned manuscript was stowed beneath the bed, an unfinished table waited for the final resin coat, and the oven was getting rusty from lack of use.
My doctor told me that my weight gain had brought on the hormonal disorder, which can lead to insulin resistance and infertility. Further panicked by the news, I started stressing more than ever about my health, my potential inability to have children, my lack of a relationship, and the absence of a social support system.
I tried to console myself that this is temporary, once I am promoted, I won’t need to work this hard, I’ll have more time, I’ll be healthier, I’ll be more satisfied. But contentment never came, despite working hard and being great at my job, I did not get the promotion that I was working towards.
Eventually, I decided that I need to get past the hurt and take a step back to reflect on my life. I told my self, “yes everything seems impossible, but how can I use my experience to my advantage?”. Once I was able to answer this question for myself, I was able to improve.
How did I Use the Difficulties in my Life to My Advantage?
Now, the day my company picked a less experienced colleague over me for the promotion was the day I decided that enough is enough. I cannot sacrifice my mental and physical health for a job with no rewards.
The day I quit my job was the hardest day of my life. I was plagued by so many negatives, how will I make rent? Will I be able to get another job? Will I feel useless ad rudderless? But let me tell you, all of my fears were unfounded, and I have never been happier with a decision.
Many of you will say, Boohoo! So you got rejected for a promotion, no big deal, we have all been there. You might get it next time. While, of course, you are right, that is beside the point. Most of us millennials are working double-time to either make our rent or realize our dreams of success. What we don’t realize is that this rate race ends up taking more of our life than we realize.
In the pursuit of a higher-paying job, a better status, a bigger home, or a faster car, we end up giving countless nights of good sleep, days out with our family, and night excursions with our friends. We end up giving our peace of mind and the downtime our body craves to remain healthy.
I have found that while you should be ambitious, nothing is worth as much as your health and happiness. If you have a healthy mind and a healthy body, then you have the greatest wealth in the world. To all my millennial friends, let’s prioritize our health and take a step back from this continuous race forward.
Here are some tips from my own experience on how you can take a step back while also achieving success:
Be Your Own Boss:
when I quit my job, I took up freelancing. I set a schedule for myself; 6 hours a week and not one hour more. This routine not only freed up my day for other activities, but it was also sufficient enough to meet my financial needs. Moreover, I did not have to be answerable to anyone; I was doing something for myself and loving it!
To my fellow millennials, if you have the clout to be a freelancer, do it. If you are someone who works well with structure and authority, then asking for flexible timings and remote working options to give yourself a breather.
1. Don’t Take on More than You Can Chew
This is a common proverb, and we often ignore it thinking it’s just an excuse to be lazy. No, it’s not. You may think you can do multiple things at one time, but your brain gets tired, and it starts affecting your health. One day you will notice that you get sick easily, your hair is falling out, you have tired and dull skin, or you are getting frustrated by even small things.
Believe me, in the long run, doing less would be doing more. If you keep doing more than your body can handle, you will end up crashing and burning.
2. Follow Your Passion
You must see the recent trend of people turning their hobbies into legitimate businesses. Why is that? Because there is no greater joy than doing something you love. So why not turn it a source of income as well? Explore your hobbies and your creative side, see what gives you joy, and then turn that into a source of income. After I quit my job, I found that I loved turning furniture; I revamped old furniture into new artsy pieces and ended up with a small but substantial business. Similarly, you too can find something that makes you happy and pays the bills! To inspire you to follow your passion, here is a short video:
3. Declutter Your Mind and Prioritize
just like cleaning is essential for the maintenance of your car or furniture, its also necessary for your mind. Take a step back, and see what matters to you and then readjust your life around those things.
4. Don’t let Work be Your Only Priority
Work is only a part of your life, don’t make your whole life about work. Do enough that it makes you financially able to enjoy the things that actually matter to you.
We often brush aside health concerns as weakness, laziness, and incapability. We work boring jobs and long working hours because we have been taught that that’s what we are supposed to do. It is not so! Whatever our dreams and ambitions, we must prioritize our health and take a step back to reflect on our life in order to achieve success and ever-lasting happiness.
Did you have a similar experience? Share with our readers and inspire them to live a healthier life.