Colin Dunbar

"Is what I'm doing NOW moving me closer to my goal?"

What is it REALLY Worth?

By Colin Dunbar

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a psychologist or medical doctor. The opinions expressed in this article reflect my personal experiences and observations over many years. The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional psychological or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from this article with other sources, and review all information regarding any psychological or medical condition or treatment with your medical professional. Use common sense.

A True Story...

Rob's office was next door to our open plan work space (a distance of a few steps from ours to his). His wife rang him from our office, "I'm done here, see you now, and we can go home."

She hung up the phone, picked up her bag and walked directly to his office. We could see the people walking past, over the room dividers, and we all expected to see Rob and his wife walk past our open plan area within a minute or two.

It was only about 10 minutes later that we saw something that shocked us...

Rob's wife, and a colleague, on either side of him were supporting him, as they walked past us - Rob could hardly walk; he was practically fast asleep on his feet. The expression on her face was total panic.

The next day we heard when Rob's wife walked into his office, he was slumped over his desk, passed out.

Total exhaustion.

It was coming close to the end of a six-month contract with a crazy deadline. Rob had finished one of many all-nighters, and was physically and mentally totally exhausted.

What is it REALLY worth?

Life is more than the 9-to-5

Was it worth it to work such ridiculous hours?

Ah, but that's an extreme example, and anyway, it was only for a short period of 6 months.

I agree.

The Value of Sleep

According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, "After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You'll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases." [1] One of my colleagues on the same project mentioned above totaled his LDV on the way home one night (early morning hours). The effects of sleep deprivation are very real, and you can see the seven ways a good night's sleep can benefit you at the NHS site (link at the bottom of this article).

I don't know where you are on your life's journey: you may be just starting out, and in that case you'll read this and not believe a word. Or you may be midway through your working life (married, kids, middle management, etc.), and if this is the case, you'll probably ponder over this article, you may even smile every now and then. If you're towards the end of your journey (empty nest, looking forward to retirement), you will almost certainly smile, maybe even chuckle. There is truth in these here words.

Chasing recognition, praise, promotion, money, success... is it really worth it?

This chase usually starts in primary school. Actually, it's often already present in pre-school. Prior to pre-school we're running on instinct: only the essentials are needed, like eating, drinking, and sleeping. Basic stuff. Then we get to pre-school, and we're taught - indoctrinated - to be chasers; chase after the proverbial "pot of gold". You know how it is: get good grades, pursue recognition, and win the awards... this continues into adult life: trainee/junior, staff member, senior, middle management, senior manager, etc. DO better, GET more, GO higher - there is actually a whole frigging industry on it: self-motivation, self-help (I was part of this industry for too many years). To attain success is no problem, but the possible cost of obtaining that success is a major problem, and is the thing that usually causes damage.

What are you on about? Damage?

But, that's just how life is.

The Price of Success

Personal success coach and author, Dr Phil Humbert offers this advice, "Every day, I hear people say they "have to" go to work, run errands, or do some other chore. In most cases, what they mean is that some task is calling and they "must" take care of it. I understand that.

But it's also essential to be very careful about the language we use with ourselves! Our brain is always listening to what we say, especially when we talk to ourselves about ourselves!" [2]

Please read on...

Admittedly, for some, the cost of obtaining this success is not important. We all have the ability to choose: we have choices, and if that is the choice that's made, so be it.

A good friend of many years had a child (followed the normal route: married, better job, house, child, etc.) and the child was not even 3 months old, and they were reading books on intelligence/brain development. Was the idea of this to give the child a more tranquil life? I don't think so. Why? He will make his child a chaser.

Is there a problem with wanting "better" or "more", or wanting to be "successful"? NO!. There is not a single thing wrong with it. IF YOU UNDERSTAND AND REALIZE YOU WILL PAY A PRICE FOR IT! It may be a low price, or it may be a high price, in the world we live in you WILL pay a price if you chase after the "pot of gold", regardless of life's pleasures. Unless you become acutely aware of this system, and the way things function in this weird 21st century.

In a study done by the Adult Labor Force, it was found that "an increased amount of negative spillover from work to family, the likelihood of reporting stress within the family increased by 74%." [3] And that was in 2002!

In a survey done in 2011, it was found that "88% of Working Parents Suffer Stress-related Health Problems." [4] The survey results reveal some horrific findings.

Ah, but that's years ago.

Real Life Stress

I would like to share a true story from not long ago of three colleagues...

Guy #1 had a complete body shut down, and for many weeks (maybe it was a few months) he was only allowed to work 1 day/week (strict doctor's orders).

Guy #2 had a nervous breakdown, and ended up having extended sick leave.

And guy #3 had a "light" stroke, and for more than a month he was off work...

When the guys returned, there was no real change in their responsibilities, but ALL 3 looked and sounded very different. My question: What the hell is it worth? The company continued and continues to make billions!

I agree the 3 examples above are extreme (but not uncommon) and they are paying the HIGH price concerning their health. On the LOW price side: time with family (kids), health (bad eating habits, little sleep), exercise, distancing from spouse (divorce) - YOU WILL PAY A PRICE!

The American Institute of Stress states that "80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42% say their coworkers need such help." [5]

And onto the last statistics on the effects of stress...

"Based on a review of 17 studies covering 528,908 men and women followed for an average of 7.2 years, the increased stroke risk remained once smoking, alcohol consumption and level of physical activity were taken into account.

The study, published in The Lancet, found that compared with people who logged a standard week, those working between 41 and 48 hours had a 10% higher risk, while for those working 49 to 54 hours, the risk jumped by 27%.

Working 55 hours or more a week increased the risk of having a stroke by 33%, the study showed." [6]

Josh Kaufman offers this advice...

"You no longer have to be in constant motion; instead, you probably spend most of your time occupied by sedentary activities, like sitting behind a desk at a computer. As a result, we face many new threats to our brains and bodies, like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and chronically low energy." [7]

And then he offers something anyone who has pulled an all-nighter will be very familiar with...

"Pounding Red Bull and pulling all-nighters can only take you so far. If you want to do good work, taking care of yourself isn't optional. If you don't give your body what it needs to run, you'll run out of gas long before you reach your goals." [7]

Whether the following story is true or not, I don't know. What I do know is that it certainly can be based on the truth.

I first read this in Dale Carnegie's classic, How to Make Friends and Influence People. If you do a search at Google you'll find many references to this story. Dale Carnegie says it, "strikes an echoeing chord in so many readers as become a perennial reprint favorite."

Father Forgets

W. Livingston Larned

Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

These are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread.

And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, "Goodbye, Daddy!" and I frowned, and said in reply, "Hold your shoulders back!" Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive?-?and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. "What is it you want?" I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding?-?this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth.

I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed! It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: "He is nothing but a boy?-?a little boy!" I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother's arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much." [8]

On the contract I spoke about at the beginning of this article, I didn't see my children for weeks, except as they were sleeping in their beds. The last month of the contract I clocked 315 hours, and my friend and colleague clocked 420 hours. Was it worth it? Not even slightly.

We tend to get stuck in the "groove" - we end up living our lives like a run-away train. And when things go wrong, and our bodies shut down, we experience something called hindsight bias... "also known as the knew-it-all-along effect or creeping determinism, is the inclination, after an event has occurred, to see the event as having been predictable, despite there having been little or no objective basis for predicting it." [9]

In his book, The Personal MBA, Josh Kaufman says, "Hindsight Bias is the natural tendency to kick yourself for things you "should have known." If you lose your job, you "should have known it was coming." If the price of a particular stock you own drops 80 percent overnight, you "should have sold it." If you launch a product and no one buys it, you "should have known it wouldn't work."

Baloney. If you knew then what you know now, you wouldn't have done what you did." [7]

Exercise

This is not difficult. Over a period of only 5 days (consecutive days work best), grab a piece of paper and note the times you spend on things in your day (this is easy nowadays, using your cell phone you can note the time easily). Record the start time, what you do, and then the end time, e.g. 5:00 Get up, 6:00 Leave for office, 7:15 Get to office. At the end of each day total the times spent?-?now put this data into a spreadsheet and create a pie chart. This is what mine looks like...

Time spent in a day

Ideally, this should be done choosing a random week. Look at the pie chart and check your QUALITY time, e.g. not sitting next to spouse/child and watching TV (there is zero interaction or communication); REAL quality time, actually talking to your child or spouse. Or reading positive material, or watching a positive video.

I don't know you, but I have a good idea you're going to be shocked (very surprised, at the least) when you look at the pie chart.

"But that's just how life is today."

Did you just say that? Or maybe you said it earlier?

Bullshit!

We lie to ourselves and "justify" our actions on BS like we HAVE to lead this lifestyle, otherwise we will be a failure, or we won't have all the "stuff". TOTAL FRIGGING ROT! If we end up with an ulcer, bad back, poor eyesight, broken marriage/relationship, no relationship with our children, then we are a FAILURE! Why? Because no amount of money or "stuff" can repair any of these. The human body is an incredible machine, but it's not indestructible (take that on good advice).

This sounds almost like a no-brainer, but so very important...

"If you want to be productive, you must set limits. Juggling hundreds of active tasks across scores of projects is not sustainable: you're risking failure, subpar work, and burnout. Remember Parkinson's Law: if you don't set a limit on your available time, your work will expand to fill it all. If you don't draw the line somewhere, work will consume all of your energy, and you'll inevitably burn out." [10]

Inevitably, the highest price we pay in being "chasers" and pursuing "success" is the forfeit (or loss) of TIME and HEALTH... QUALITY TIME! GOOD HEALTH! Period.

In his book, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, Dr Joseph Murphy reminds us that, "No one on his deathbed wishes he had spent more time making money!"

Your subconscious mind is POWERFUL. We so often try and "justify" our actions and behavior with things like: "Oh, I leave my work problems at the office." (like the 3 colleagues mentioned earlier left their work problems at the office?).

Bullshit! Those problems (and stress) are embedded in our subconscious, and there's no OFF switch. Question: Have you ever had your spouse or child tell you something, and when they ask you what you think, you're a complete blank? Not because you didn't want to listen, but it's because you're pre-occupied (almost certainly thinking of work). That's the power of the subconscious mind, baby.

"A lot of people are having a more difficult time finding balance in their lives because there have been cutbacks or layoffs where they work. They're afraid it may happen to them, so they're putting in more hours," says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life. [11]

"In today's society we are in a permanent competition. Appearance, occupation, education of the children?-?everything is compared to a media staged ideal. Everything should be perfect, because this deep-rooted aversion to all average, the pathological pursuit to excellence - these are old traditions. Who ever wants more?-?on the job, from the partner, from the children, from themselves- will one day be burned out and empty inside." [3]

Long-term Exercise:

Write on a piece of what you THINK your life/situation is going to be like in 5 years. This is not a goal, or dream, just write what you THINK your life is going to be like. Save a copy of this safely. I'm going to bet what you write now will not be the same reality in 5 years' time (if you were honest).

What's the alternative?

Is there a solution?

I will admit, if I had a simple and clear-cut solution - one that was guaranteed - I'd probably be the most famous person on the planet.

There are alternatives, though.

Start Small

As part of my suggested alternatives, my first recommendations are small, easier ideas. These begin with 2 books.

The first is Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. In particular, Chapter 11 is relevant in this situation. As the sub-title suggests, this book is about taking control of your life - your time - better. And this can be done without causing problems. Your time, well-being, and life is valuable.

What are boundaries?

"Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership." [10]

The second book I would like to recommend is Brian Tracy's classic, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.[12]

This book offers a practical process to enable you to manage your time more effectively.

"According to many researchers, the average American is not getting enough sleep relative to the amount of work he or she is doing. Millions of Americans are working in a mental fog as the result of working too much and sleeping too little." [12]

Invest the few dollars, and get yourself copies of these 2 books. It will be money well spent.

The following from Boundaries: "Finding your life's work involves taking risks. First you need to firmly establish your identity, separating yourself from those you are attached to and following your desires. You must take ownership of how you feel, how you think, and what you want. You must assess your talents and limitations." [10]

That leads me onto ideas that you can actually do to improve your work-life balance.

Lifestyle Business

In his book, Attract Money Now, Joe Vitale offers this...

"The Internet is really unique because it's used by almost every person living in developed countries around the world. It's easy to access, costs little, and can put you in touch with customers all over the world. It gives you the opportunity to start small and then grow your business. You can have a business in conjunction with your day job while building your income. Doing business online also gives you the option of spending more time with your children and family. For this reason alone, many people with small children choose to pursue this avenue." [13]

The Internet is the place where people, from all sorts of backgrounds build their lifestyle businesses.

The first example I want to use is Pat Flynn from SmartPassiveIncome.com.

Who is Pat Flynn?

In his words... "I'm a 32 year old dude from Southern California who makes a living on the internet. I consider myself the luckiest person on Earth. I didn't win the lottery, I don't drive a fancy car, and I'm not super famous. What I do have is a beautiful wife, two amazing children, a loving family, awesome friends, and a line of work that allows me to spend most of my time with them."

Following are a few quotes and a discussion from Pat's 2014 Annual Income Report...

"This [his son started pre-school], more than anything, was the biggest change personally for me in 2014. Since the day my son was born, I've been so blessed to be able to be here at home with him all day, almost every day. I've witnessed all of his firsts and watched him grow inch by inch, and to see him off to school was extremely hard for me."

And then, he offers this...

"The last thing I'd like to talk about related to this is that it's interesting dropping off and picking up our son each day. My wife and I seem to be the only couple that gets to do this together at the same time each day, and a few of the other parents in the school have actually brought this up to us. Most ask us how we're able to do this, and then eventually the discussion leads to my online businesses, passive income, and SPI."

That is something I can relate to, and for anyone who has not experienced missing their kids growing up, have no idea of the value of that. And then Pat says: "Without the support from my wife, I definitely wouldn't be where I'm at today."

Amen to that!

Pat sums up what it's all about, with this: "SPI isn't all about business?-?it's about life too. It's about passive income and a flexible work schedule for the ability to have a life that you want."

Starting and running a lifestyle business is not easy, but it can be done, and it's possible without extreme pressure and exorbitant amounts of money. Many successful online entrepreneurs have started their businesses following baby steps, and that is one of the criteria that make a lifestyle business ideal: it can be started following baby steps, part-time.

As David Wilk stated in a paper on marketing, "it's not money, but time that is ultimately precious to us, simply because in the money economy we all know that time is never going to be increasing for us. We have less of it every day." [14]

It must also be understood that a lifestyle business is not something that ignores the natural laws of business. It does take time and effort, but it can be done.

When It's All Over

The cliché, Life is short is in reality very true.

Bronnie Ware worked in palliative care for many years. Her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying details the most common regrets expressed to her by the people she had cared for. She offers the most common five regrets:

In particular, look at #2, #4 and #5...

  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The last paragraph in her book is timeless wisdom: "Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness."

There ARE alternatives.

In closing, I leave you with the words of Dr Phil Humbert, "Your life belongs to you, and only you can decide how you will live it. Your life is a "do it yourself project". Make sure you create the life you truly want!"

Ask yourself: What is it REALLY worth?

Thank you for reading this article; I would be forever grateful to you if you shared it with your family, friends, and on your social networks.

References

[1] www.nhs.uk/Livewell/tiredness-and-fatigue/Pages/lack-of-sleep-health-risks.aspx

[2] Take Charge of Your Life!, TIPS Newsletter, www.philiphumbert.com, coach[AT]philiphumbert.com, copyright 2015.

[3] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work%E2%80%93life_balance

[4] www.workingmomsbreak.com/2011/06/20/survey-working-parents-health-problems

[5] www.stress.org/workplace-stress/

[6] www.fin24.com/BizNews/Beware-how-those-long-working-hours-really-can-kill-you-20150820

[7] Kaufman, Josh. The Personal MBA. New York: Penguin, 2010.

[8] davidhuerta.typepad.com/blog/2010/06/father-forgets.html

[9] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindsight_bias

[10] Cloud, Henry Dr, Townsend, John Dr. Boundaries. Michigan: Zondervan, 1992.

[11] www.webmd.com/health-insurance/protect-health-13/balance-life

[12] Tracy, Brian. Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. London: Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., 2004.

[13] Vitale, Joe Dr. Attract Money Now. Texas: Hypnotic Marketing, Inc., 2010.

[14] Wilk, David. Not a Marketing Plan, What You Need Is a Connecting Plan.

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