Why Work-Life Integration Matters!

Have you ever had one of those mornings when you just don’t want to get out of bed to go to work? Better yet, have you had one of those sleepless nights when all you thought about was the dread of your alarm going off within the next couple of hours resulting in my original question? Well, we can’t just lay there all day because work has piled up on your desk, personal life activities like family obligations await you after work, and then you MUST get errands like walking the dog, grocery shopping, or doing laundry. Well, I guess you could use a sick day or two if you have them available. Trust me, I’ve been there!

Before completely moving into Athletic Performance Coaching full-time, I spent more than 15-years in the world of broadcast media advertising which taught me a few life lessons during my tenure:

  1. Getting my client’s message in front of as many eyeballs as possible for the least amount of money is priority number one.
  2. You work as many hours as needed to get task #1 accomplished.
  3. You’re in an extension of the entertainment business, so get out and schmooze with vendors as often as possible.
  4. If you do 1-3 often and long enough your personal life will suffer severely!

Let’s face it, when you’re a young, hungry, and aggressive student coming out of college and the goal is to take over the world as soon as possible, you do whatever it takes to get it done. That’s what I did, but the stress caused me to struggle mentally and physically like I never could have imagined. My regular commute to and from work was an average of 1 ½-hours each way. That's the norm in Los Angeles to go 20-miles during rush hour. As a young husband and father with a growing career there were days when I thought there was no way to balance all of those responsibilities out, especially when my job would require me to be out late after work several times per month.

So here’s the deal, you can’t be all things to all people. And you can’t be the best version of yourself if you are completely out of balance. A real way to self-assess your work-life balance is taking the pulse of your stress levels, and being in tune to how much time you devote to real things that matter: Health, Family, Career, and Leisurely Activities & Hobbies.

For example, I am now the health & fitness coach to some very high level executives, business owners, and attorneys. Spending time with them several hours per week has allowed me to take mental notes on how they balance their lives by integrating everything together seamlessly. Interestingly enough, they all have about the same number of responsibilities when it comes to juggling those important things that I mentioned earlier.

They are married, have multiple kids that play youth sports or other activities, work 50-60 hours per week or travel to different cites regularly, and they all train with me and another coach a minimum of twice per week. Here are the takeaways that you can implement almost immediately with a little planning and restructuring.

If You Suck at Being Healthy, You Can’t Expect To Influence Anybody

I got into coaching several years ago so that I could influence people to take more control of their well-being, period! I know first-hand how easy it is to work long hours, eat conveniently crappy food, sip on some adult beverage, and repeat that every day until….well, until I said I was tired of feeling like horse manure. These folks are all cut from the same mold of clay. All of them know for a fact that their training routine influences their kids and their peers at work.

When mom and dad are training on a regular basis, the kids see parents that are like super heroes. How they train also effects how they eat because recovery is one of the most important parts of any exercise program. This means that they are eating the right things at home with their family, and eating well when with their coworkers. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to say that all of them are perfect, but they aren’t. They have to go out and entertain with clients and enjoy a little wine or whiskey in the process, but they are consistently putting in the work at a level where they operate a high level both at home and in the workplace. And we know that everybody is watching!

The byproduct of this is the kids are also forced to eat the right things and develop good habits. And let’s face it, we live in a fast food / quick fix environment. If the kids are being like mom & dad then the better chance they will have to impact their genetics as they grow older. Meanwhile, those friends of yours at work will begin to recognize that you are different. Now, I didn’t say it would be all roses because the haters will be around to tear down your hustle. However, more often than not your peers will ask more questions about your how, who, what, where, etc.

Creating a Plan Is One Thing, Following and Completing a Plan Is Another

One of my favorite quotes is “People don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan!” This is absolutely true when it comes to these professionals. Now, the type of planning that I’m talking about is probably not what you’re thinking. While it’s true that they all prepare each day for their workouts, nutrition, and family obligations, they also look further out on their calendars. All of them plan out family vacations WAY in advance, they plan parties WAY in advance, and they make time to enjoy their family and kids on a daily basis. Family trips are often filled with extreme activity for the entire family to enjoy.

Several of them take the entire family on big ski/snowboarding trips lasting 4-7 days, and all of the kids participate and know how to do it. I’ve seen full mountain biking and hiking excursions in the spring and summer, and vacations to sunny beaches so that the kids can learn how to surf. But here is the catch, all of these active trips are planned that way so that the entire family has to stay in good condition year round. Brilliant! This is easy if you have kids that play sports year-round, but the older we get the harder it becomes to keep up with our little people. They combat that by putting integrating consistent physical training into their daily life.

Shift Your Internal Clock

I would be a liar if I said that all of these people, including myself, don’t miss workouts. We all do sometimes! However, we don’t let the excuse of not having time get in the way. Most of them are completing their workouts first thing in the morning between 5:30-8:30am. That means that they need to get to bed at a decent time in order to be ready for my onslaught the next morning. Life can take over sometimes, so I will occasionally get a text that they can’t come in because they worked until 2:00am. Fine! I’m okay with that happening because I know that they will make up for it later. When it’s a lifestyle built around consistency it actually bothers them when they can’t train.

The most important thing is that they structure most evenings around the planning that I just mentioned. They always find time to spend with their spouses and kids, don’t miss games, and participate in homework and dinner most days of the week. And when the kids go to bed, they are already preparing for the next day so there is no scrambling around the following morning. Each day is methodically planned to work the way they want it to work to the best of their ability and what they can control.

Play to Win

This is one of the most important ones of them all. All of them are highly competitive. You don’t reach that level of success without putting in massive effort and work, but their biggest competition is themselves. They are constantly trying to improve on timed workouts, increase weight on lifts, and reshape body composition based on the goal ahead. This is a hard thing to turn off once it is on. High level athletes are the same way. Even after careers are over, their minds are focused on the next goal or task.

Imagine for a second that you go to bed every night ready to kick the next day in the ass and then after you do you can talk about it. How much confidence would you have in yourself? Now if you did that year, after year, after year this type of mindset could potentially rub off on your kids and the people closest to you. For a beginner, that competition with self could be as small as getting a total time of 30-minutes of walking within 7-days. If you do it, now you look to improve upon it and grow from there. If you miss it, what will it take to achieve it the following week? Compete with yourself. Pretty simple stuff!

Take inventory on your daily routine and see where you can trim the fat on time wasters like television (which you can actually plan out Netflix and chill on a rest day), video gaming, watching sports, etc. Ask yourself if it is actually contributing to your growth. As a former advertising executive I was required to watch a good amount of hours of television, but I also knew how to balance it out. This is the message for anyone trying to figure out how to integrate good health and increased physical strength into your busy life of work and family.