It was 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday evening. I had been frantically working and my eyes were glued to my laptop. Deadlines hovered over my shoulders, keeping me focused on one thing -- work. I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. Out of instinct I quickly threw my arm around my waist. The pain went away.
"That was odd," I thought to myself. A few minutes later the pain came back. I began to get nervous that something might be incredibly wrong. I went to the kitchen to grab a glass of water and then it hit me.
"I haven't eaten dinner yet," I remembered with a sigh of relief. "That must be why I am having stomach pains."
I started to fix myself a plate of food and paused. "Wait a minute, I haven't eaten at all today." My brow furrowed as I tried to remember the last time I had eaten anything.
After much deliberation, I realized that it had been three days since I had a meal. Tea and water had been my only consumption. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I hadn't showered and my skin did not have any color left in it. I looked like I was one step away from death.
This was not the first time this happened. Unfortunately, it was quite frequent that meals were overlooked or days would go by without me stepping foot outside. I had a voracious appetite for success -- but not for food or taking care of myself.
I had no balance in my life. My obsession was work. My focus was on projects. My well-being came from gaining new clients. In the meantime, I was destroying myself, my body, my health. I came across the quote, "Being dead is bad for business." It was poignant enough that I realized I had to do something different.
How many of us get caught up in the rat race of leaving early and coming home late, traveling for work but not for vacation, and filling our bodies with constant stress? How often do we deprive ourselves of sleep and exercise in the pursuit of success? How many times do we grab an unhealthy lunch on the go because we are running late to another meeting?
How sweet will success really be if you're dead?
Entrepreneurs have formed bad habits of putting their business before themselves. We convince ourselves that "someday" we will eat healthy, work out, catch up on sleep and go to the doctor. "Someday," business will calm down and we can spend time with the family on vacation. "Someday" we will have less stress.
I have some interesting news for you: 'Someday' is the most elusive day of your life.
My solution was to set some new goals that others help hold me accountable. I signed up to run an 10-mile obstacle race with my sister. It was completely out of my comfort zone but forced me to close the laptop and train my body every day (I couldn't embarrass myself in front of my little sister).
Just taking that one step spiraled into more steps. I couldn't train if I didn't have healthy foods in my body, so I began to look up healthy recipes. I regained my passion for cooking and began to enjoy meals again. I made the dinner table a "non-electronic device zone" for both myself and my kids.
My muscles were stiff from training and a friend suggested trying yoga. While yoga was great for stretching, I found that it was incredibly helpful for clearing my mind. I continue to do yoga whenever I feel I am becoming too stressed or my thoughts are too cluttered. So many benefits have come into my life from taking one step towards better health.
We all have to find a balance. Whether we need to stop working to play with our kids more, take time out for a hobby, enjoy dinner with friends or even take a small vacation, finding balance is essential. As important as opportunities, dreams and our careers are to us, they are not worth dying over.
I would love for you to share your best tips for keeping a balance in your life in the comments section.
Related: It's Up to Us to Make Our Own Fate