As part of our rhythm of life, my wife Jo and I have just returned from a week off in Singapore. We explored the different cultures, places and foods of this vibrant Asian city. We relaxed and enjoyed 7 days without any fixed agenda. We caught up with some exercise walking more than 10 km each day. We even found a Japanese Onsen which is located in the Singapore National Sports Stadium and enjoyed a long lazy afternoon of spa and massage treatments.
Rhythm of Life is all about energy
I like to work hard. I am passionate about what I do and can engage for long hours either working with people, or in my office, planning, thinking or writing. I have learned that my energy levels are not always the same. When I was younger and less self-aware, I would simply work flat out and expect that I could function at my best no matter what. I have since realised that I am not a machine (and even machines need regular servicing). I need to look after myself. I need to replenish and recharge my body and my inner life regularly in order to have energy for those peak times when I really need to be sharp and at the top of my game. When I neglect myself for a week or two I can now see that I lose energy and my productivity suffers. Before I understood how to work with my rhythm of life I’m pretty sure I lived a lot of my life on the edge of burnout. I functioned, often at high levels, but, over time, I forgot how to relax and on the inside I was not in a good place.
The importance of working with your natural life rhythms
One of the huge benefits of being self-employed (assuming a decent income) is that I can organise my own schedule. Jo and I have done a lot of work over the past few years to better understand our rhythm of life as individuals and as a couple. We have become quite attuned to listening to our bodies and to knowing when we need to rest and replenish. However, rather than waiting until we hit our limits and hurt ourselves, we have implemented a structure especially around our work that helps us look after ourselves better.
Our Rhythm of Life Structure
This is how we operate to ensure we always have energy for life:
- We take a day off each week
- We take a long weekend every 4 weeks – a lazy Monday or a slow Friday
- We take a week off every quarter (12 weeks)
- One of those quarterly breaks extends to 3 weeks off (usually Christmas)
- We make sure we get away just the two of us for a 2 night romantic break at least twice a year
In our times off we do things that replenish us individually and as a couple. We are both passionate about our work so sometimes that involves discussing work plans and dreaming about the future, but we have learned to do other things that we can become totally absorbed in as well. For me that is reading a novel, exploring history and culture, exercising and playing or watching sport. For Jo that is gardening, reading a novel, cooking and finding great coffee and food.
If you would like to know more about Rhythm of Life and how to integrate work with all that is precious in your world you need to read my book, “INTEGRATE – Why work-life balance is a myth and what you really need to create a fulfilling lifestyle”. Get your hard copy here or at your local bookstore, or a Kindle version here.
Photo credit: John Drury – A view of Singapore from the Hotel Fort Canning