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Rediscovering Rest and Leisure

“I’ll have plenty of time to rest when I’m dead!” 

I can remember saying this regularly, and, yes, I actually meant it. At the time, it was a badge of honor . . . working insane hours, barely sleeping, often going long stretches without eating, never working out, constant stress, and eventual burn out, probably several times. 

This was my life post-college, especially after starting Prowess. I was coaching most of the classes and working A LOT. I was determined to do whatever I needed to make the business work. Of course I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way, but fortunately they have provided me with an opportunity to learn, but some of them not until years later. One of the things I’ve learned, and have been able to reflect on with the benefit of hindsight is: I was DUMB! Like seriously dumb.  

I am not sure why I thought that working insane hours, and having tons of stress was something that I “should” do or even was expected of me. I now realize that no one actually expected me to do those things, but it was something I had been telling myself. I’m sure at some point in my life, I learned that hard work and success/happiness were related. We live in a society that values work, accomplishments, and busyness. But busyness is a form of status, and it can also be used to help us avoid or be numb to other underlying problems.  

I recently watched a TED talk that referenced a study by the management research group of 10,000 senior business leaders, and 97% stated the number one thing that could most benefit their business is long term strategic planning. However, in a separate study, 96% percent of business leaders also said they didn’t have enough time for long term strategic planning. Anyone else know of things they should be doing but somehow never have the time?  Who feels super busy and rushed throughout their day, and yet somehow feel like you never get enough done? 

Unfortunately it’s almost as if the system is rigged, where there just will never be enough time to get it all done. The author Oliver Burkeman explores this concept in his book, 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. As the title hints, we have a finite amount of time on this earth, and if we are lucky enough to see 80 years old, you will have lived 4000 weeks. 

Since life is finite, it is so important to focus more on what you’ve already completed, and not what you have yet to accomplish. In fact, most of the productivity tricks and time management hacks, even when done well, will leave you feeling more stressed and overwhelmed with the next item on the list. For example, you can spend a few hours getting through all of those emails, only to create more responses and emails to go through! When does it end? Guess what? It doesn’t! You’re better off just accepting you’ll never get it all done. Understanding that you’ll never get on top of everything will at least relieve the stress of having to fight to get there.

As Burkeman points out, “We won’t have time to accomplish all of the things that we want to do and we’re better off living more fully in the moment rather than try to cram more tasks into our days.”  

I think we can and should do better. I think business owners and bosses could and should do better! Hey, I’m a boss, and a business owner, I can actually do something about it. I can give our staff (and yes our members) an opportunity to completely unplug, leave the phone and computer at home, and get away, shut it all off, disconnect and honestly practice leisure, and hopefully enjoy it. I know we will all come back to better serve our members. This also allows us to highlight one of our 5 Pillars, RECOVERY. (I could easily write another blog post about the benefits of taking a week off for the body to recover!) 

I’m trying to practice what we preach, and would love to open up a discussion on how we could best use the time allowing your body to recover and focus on other aspects of your life that need some attention. Starting with our January newsletter, we have been posting that we will be closed the first week in August. I would love it if we can all take our week away from the gym to pursue things that will bring us more peace, to admit that adding more leisure and rest in our life might actually allow us to achieve more. Let’s go and use our fitness, enjoy nature, or just actually do nothing. Give yourself permission to focus on enjoying the moment. I think your body, mind, and soul will thank you.  

Jason Harrington

CEO, Prowess Fitness & Nutrition

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Prowess Fitness & Nutrition respects and follows the letter and spirit of the Massachusetts Antidiscrimination Law. We support and protect the dignity and worth of everyone. We provide equal rights and opportunities for all employees, clients, and volunteers. We do not tolerate harassment or unwelcome comments and actions. We will take prompt action if such problems occur, including failure to follow any rules or regulations, for reasons of nuisance, disturbance of others, moral turpitude or fraud, or if we determine that your actions may endanger yourself or others.