“Don’t you ever relax?”
This is the kind of question that drives people like me insane. I know a dozen of high achievers that if you ask them this, they’ll punch you. Seriously.
There is something wrong with this question because of the meaning that it carries. When you ask me something like “don’t you ever relax?” it predisposes two things:
a) That what I do is stressful or hard.
b) That there is an actual, practical difference between “what I do” and “the rest of my life”.
The truth is a lot simpler. There is no difference. There is no work time and free time. There is no study time and entertainment time. I don’t believe in this way of seeing life. Instead, for me and for many others, life is simply life. There is no part of “I hate doing this but I must do it” and a part of “I’m doing what I want now”.
I honestly believe that this kind of mindset, of separating “enjoyable activities and not so enjoyable but most be done type of activities” is wrong. It is like you’re wasting half of your life away so the other half you are doing what you love doing.
Personally, I just love what I’m doing. I love working. I love reading. I love exercising. I love self-reflection. I am not doing these things to get to something else. They are not a necessary evil so I can do something I enjoy. They are simply the things that I enjoy. This is my mindset when it comes to work and relaxation, you can’t separate them. I enjoy my work, in all its dimensions and I don’t need relaxation in the traditional sense as my work stimulates me more than it stresses me. I don’t wait to finish what I’m doing so I can watch TV or play computer games as the work itself is far more interesting for me than watching TV or playing mindless games.
About two years ago, I’ve met a few fascinating people, two girls and one guy. They were pilots in training (civilian). Their life was about studying about how to be good pilots and training for this. That was it. Yes, they had fun and everything but it wasn’t a feeling of “oh, no, tomorrow I must fly” but rather “tomorrow I get the chance to fly again and I love this”.
This mindset of “the hard and necessary part that must be done” and the “relaxing part that comes after” usually comes from poor and unaccomplished people. Rich, successful people tend to simply enjoy whatever they are doing. They succeed in their field because for them, this is the best form of spending time. They are not trying to get their work done as soon as possible to be somewhere else – they are exactly where they need to be.
I’m not saying this to be judgmental but if you’re not enjoying doing something, then why you are doing? I can understand that sometimes you must do things you don’t enjoy. We all do things out of a sense of duty but we’d rather be doing something else. But when it comes to work or study, it takes like 50% of your waking hours.
If your mindset is “I must go to work but I’d rather be home watching TV” then you’re in the wrong field. You’re spending 8 hours a day at a minimum working so if you’re not stimulated and challenged by what you’re doing, then you’re either looking at your field in the wrong manner or you need a new field.
For example, a teacher may see each day as an exciting way of shaping the destiny of many people. He’ll use this as a way to creatively express knowledge and wisdom. For him, each day is a way of doing what he loves, teaching and learning. For another person, teaching may be just something to pay the bills. For both people, the job is the same – it comes with the same rewards and challenges. The difference is in perception.
When I was young, I hated reading. I’ve found it extremely boring. I would have rather played Need for Speed or something else. Now, give me a good armchair, a Kindle and a comfortable room and I’ll sit there reading for hours. I’ll forget about eating, drinking or going to the toilet. The activity is the same as before but how I feel about it is completely different.
The truth is that I don’t need to relax because relaxing is a tool for evading from doing something you don’t enjoy. I enjoy what I do, even the generic things as replying to my emails. I do need to rest, as my body has limits. Sometimes I’m so tired that my eyes simply struggle to keep open or I have tears in my eyes from working too much. But rest is not the same as relaxing. Relaxing, for me, is considered an escape. Resting is simply the process of letting the body renew itself, a natural consequence and requirement of being human.
I do have hobbies. Even as I’m writing this now, I’m sitting in a hotel room, on a small holiday. But for me, holiday doesn’t mean wasting time. I’m seeing new places, I’m trying new experiences but when these are done, I just get back to what needs to be done.
And as far as any “evading” goes, I’d rather accomplish things in real life than in reality. I’d rather live my own story than watch another (as watching a movie) and I’d rather accomplish something tangible than do it in a video game. This doesn’t mean that I never watch movies or play video games, it simply means that my own belief and value system place these activities as a low priority.
So don’t aim to “relax”. It is an outdated concept coming from the working class mindset of the 70s, 80s and 90s. It is a concept that comes from a time when you went to your factory or cubicle and at five o clock you were home, no matter what. You were paid a fixed income and you probably worked for the same employer for your entire life. Work was something you did 33% of your waking time so you can pay the bills.
But in 2017, this is not true. Your income is not based on showing up at 09:00 and leaving at 17:00. It is based on your ability to generate results. It is your ability to create value and leverage. While there are always going to be typical 9 to 5 jobs and I’m grateful for all the people doing this (because they are the backbone of society), many jobs today are positioning you as a knowledge worker. This means you are judged not based on the work you put in but on the results you get. For many people, there is no real limit on what they can achieve, as they are judged almost completely on the results obtained.
When the end goal is to accomplish goals and not to do a 9 – 5, there is no such thing as a “relaxation period”. You’re always in the race, based on your level of ambition. Knowing this – you may as well learn to love what you’re doing or find something that you love to do. After all, you’ll have to work hard for anything worthwhile in life and for this, you need to be passionate and excited to start working in the morning.
One final thing – I’ve noticed that no matter how exciting and glamorous a lifestyle may be, it is as hard as any other. Fields don’t get either. You see someone like Selena Gomez and you think “24 year old that earns millions of dollars”. Well, that’s true but she worked hard, day by day, to get there. So does the actor earning $50.000.000 for a role and so does the CEO or exec. They are fighting their own battles just as you are and they’ve found a way to create more leverage with each hour of their time. But I can guarantee something – Selena Gomez never thought about “oh, this is work and this is fun”. Instead, she obsessed about achieving her goals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and because of this, she has a net worth of $50.000.000 at age 24.
Do you think that you get a net worth of $50.000.000 at this age, at an age where most people don’t even know what they want out of their life by separating life and work? By looking for ways to relax? Or do you think you do it by dedicating your life to a purpose and to a set of goals? Think about it. The answer may just change your life.