Recreation Means Just That: Re-Creating Yourself

Eventually you will reach a point where you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

A distraught patient phoned her doctor’s office. She wanted to know, “Is it true that the medication you prescribed has to be taken for the rest of my life?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so,” the doctor told her.

There was a moment of silence before the lady replied, “I’m wondering, then, just how serious my condition is… because this prescription is marked NO REFILLS.”

Obviously, stress can be found anywhere. And as I’ve written in some recent “Tuesday Tips,” stress is one of the biggest killers of personal happiness and professional success.

I’ve also said that the way you manage stress, prevent burnout, and keep a healthy work-life balance is to practice a few strategies in each of the 8 dimensions of life. You’ve got to do something positive in the Physical, Recreational, Occupational, Financial, Relational, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual dimensions.

In previous “Tuesday Tips,” I addressed the PHYSICAL dimension, and I gave you three strategies for managing that part of your life. I said you need to:

1) Be honest with yourself. 2) Take care of your body, and 3) Take time to relax.

As usual, quite a few of you responded to those “Tuesday Tips.” I especially liked Rob Peck’s response. As an entertainer, juggler, and speaker, Rob knows the importance of keeping himself in great physical shape. He said there’s an African proverb that says, “Feed your faith and your doubts will starve.” But Americans, according to Peck, might find it more appropriate to say, “Feed your face and your stomach will swell.”

In any case, the second dimension in the struggle for work-life balance is the RECREATIONAL dimension. It’s all about creating a lifestyle you enjoy rather than endure. After all, that’s what the word… “recreation”… means. You “re-create;” you make something better.

To do that, you need to…


In other words, no matter how much you work, how hard you work, or how fast you work, you’ll never be finished. And you have to be okay with that.

On the surface, that makes perfect sense, but it’s a difficult concept for me to swallow. After all, as a child, I was taught I had to get all my work done before I could play. And maybe you were raised that way too.

The problem with that approach… getting all your work done before you play… is you would never have time to play. There’s always more you could do.

I know it’s true for me. I could go to my office, close the door, turn on the computer, work for six months, never sleep, never eat, and never be finished. I’ve got to be okay with that… or live with an enormous burden of stress.

Comedian Erma Bombeck realized the importance of knowing she’d never be finished. She said, “Housework can kill you if it’s done right.”

One of my audience members shared a similar sentiment. He told me his co-worker had died the year before… a heart attack at age 37. His buddy was working nights, weekends, overtime… barely seeing his wife, kids, or friends. And the stress finally did him in.

But sadder yet, this audience member went on to tell me, “A year has passed since my co-worker died, and our manager has never even tried to fill his position. The fact is… we’re doing just find without him.”

Is your job worth dying for? Probably not. For your own sense of self-esteem and satisfaction, you MUST PURSUE EXCELLENCE at work and at home. But you MUST NOT LOSE YOUR HEALTH and sanity in the process.


=> Shun the Superman/Superwoman urge.

On some level, you know YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL. You can do a lot, but you can’t do everything.

Likewise, YOU CAN’T HAVE IT ALL. Oh sure, you can learn how to achieve more of your goals, and you should learn how to do that. You shouldn’t waste your God-given potential. But you’ll never get everything you want. That’s just the way life is.

And when you think about it, it’s actually good that you can’t do it all or have it all. If you finished every task and achieved every goal in life, you’d have no challenge. You’d have nothing to look forward to.

=> Focus on fun tasks that matter.

If you can’t be Superman or Superwoman, if you can’t do everything, what should you do to keep your work and life in balance? Choose your tasks carefully.

Michelle Nichols, the sales columnist for “Business Week Online,” learned that. She was reading one of my articles while on a treadmill and actually stopped her workout to write herself this big note: “I accept the fact I don’t have time to do everything. I will just do what MATTERS and what’s FUN.”

Well said. You see… time flies whether you’re having fun or not. So you might as well choose tasks that are both fun AND worthwhile… if at all possible.

=> Change your pace and pace yourself.

If you get bored at work, it can lead to depression and a feeling of listlessness. And after a while you may not feel like doing anything.

You can fight boredom at work by changing your pace every once in a while. Intermingle complex projects with easy ones. Take short breaks, or do some simple stretching exercises at your desk.

CHANGE YOUR PACE. Refrain from going full speed 24/7. And refrain from taking it too easy for too long. Either one of them will give you additional stress.

But PACE YOURSELF as well. As one person wrote, if a dog was your teacher, you would know how to keep things in balance. You would learn the following.

* You would run to greet your loved ones when they came home.
* You would accept every chance you get to go for a joyride.
* You would allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
* You would let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
* You would take naps.
* You would run, romp, and play daily.
* You would avoid biting when a simple growl would do.
* You would lie in the grass on warm days.
* You would drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree on hot days.
* You would dance around and wag your entire body when you were happy.
* You would delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
* You would eat with gusto and enthusiasm… and stop when you’ve had enough.
* You would be loyal, never pretending to be something you weren’t. And
* You would dig until you found whatever it is you wanted.

=> Refuse to procrastinate.

The opposite of working continually is putting off work continually. It’s just as bad and will do nothing to give you a happier, more successful life and career.

Do what has to be done when it needs to be done. Procrastination is almost always more stressful than the energy it takes to finish those important projects.

Action:  If you struggle with trying to get everything done, tell yourself, “I will do what matters and what’s fun. The rest can wait.” Affirm it hundreds of times… if necessary… until you believe it and are acting accordingly.