When it comes to your personal development, wellbeing and career there are broadly speaking 3 different types of users.
Vitamin users - who invest time and money in themselves now, knowing it’s good for you in the long run the ones.
Aspirin users - at the early stages of discomfort or pain you look for a quick solution to make it better.
Emergency Room Users - you wait until you've crashed and burned before you start to look after yourself.
You're a VITAMIN user if:
You take a long term approach to your life, health and career and look after yourself so that you don’t find yourself unwell, overwhelmed or unable to cope.
You frequently listen to personal development or business podcasts, keep up to date with what's going on in your field, you attend industry events and seminars. You have a coach and/or mentor who you see on a regular basis, perhaps at the same time every month, regardless of how well or not things are going. You regularly ask for feedback at work so that you know how you're doing, what's working and what can be improved upon. You know the importance of rest and take regular holidays, make time for activities you enjoy outside of work. You look after your physical fitness and wellbeing as much as your work. You make time for the people you love and they feel appreciated and know they are important to you.
All of this takes effort and discipline, plus gym memberships, holidays, coaching, events all cost money. However, like the person who takes their vitamins every day even if they are not sick, you are prepared to invest because you know that prevention is better than cure, that keeping yourself nourished in all aspects of life will support you.
You're an ASPIRIN user if:
You wait until you start to feel a little pain in your situation and want something to make it better in the now or you do some of the things above some of the time and none of them all of the time.
You might be that person who recognises early symptoms of stress and know that they need to slow down so you start doing a bit more yoga, give Headspace another go for the third time this year, resolve to quit the midweek drinking & , build more exercise and rest time into your diary etc.
Or you're noticing that you're getting comfortable in your job so you start to think about what you can do to shake things up. Or things at work are getting mildly uncomfortable so you know from experience it's time to start to make time for yourself before it gets very painful.
This approach isn’t dreadful however if you continue with the habits that got you to this point then you’ll inevitably find yourself back here again - it’s a vicious cycle. Conversely with some small consistent actions and good habits you can minimise the hurt and frequency of the headaches and keep moving two steps forward without the annoying and painful steps back.
You're an A&E user if you:
Ignore all the signs until you’re so far in trouble you don’t know how to get out.
Generally find yourself fitting as much as you possibly can in to your day ..... sleep is for the weak, we'll rest when we're dead etc. You grind/hustle/slave repeat with no time at all to think about the long term implications or sustainability of what you're up to.
Or it's the opposite ... you're having so much fun cruising in that comfort zone that you don't notice until you find yourself reporting into the intern and all your friends and peers have overtaken you in life that you're not at all where you want to be!
Personal development isn't on your agenda. You've got this far without it. You don't need it. Waste of bloody time and money.
And then you find out you actually do. You're in crisis mode.
You begin to throw everything into improving your CV, sending linkedin messages to people you'd lost touch with years ago because you were too busy then but who might be able to help you now, marketing your business, trying anything you can to get new sales FAST, frantically reinventing yourself so that you can survive.
OR you completely burn out and decide you're done with it all and you need a whole life makeover. Pronto.
Because small changes seem like they won't even touch the sides, you go hard and fast. You find yourself throwing away ridiculous sums of money on coaches who make outlandish "get rich/thin/happy/strong quick" promises, book yourself a holiday to a remote island to escape it all, go on extreme crash diets, buy expensive personal trainers, hide yourself away on detox retreats, take a career breaks etc etc.
Do you recognise yourself in any of these?
It would be great to think that we could all be vitamin users all of the time when the reality is most of us are probably a little bit of each time at different stages in our lives. Even the healthiest of us has made the occasional visit to A&E I'm sure and there's nothing wrong with that.
However we can all agree that it's not an ideal way to manage your health or your life as a de-facto position. So, my invitation to you, have a think what are the little steps that you can start to take now so that investing in your personal development and wellbeing become part of your daily life before things become a little painful or end up in total chaos?
P.S - Even if you take the vitamins you can still go on the big retreats and island adventures .... they'll just be more considered and you'll enjoy it way more because you're not spending the first few weeks in a mild state of post traumatic stress and recovering from shellshock about what the hell's just happened to you.