I'm not a spring chicken.
Getting old has a ton of advantages, including becoming much wiser than I was in my 20's and 30's. So while some things are heading south, it's not my IQ.
This year has been a turning point for me. As the owner of a karate school for 20 years, I always thought I was mostly healthy. I worked out, ate well, and tried to make healthy decisions. I've struggled with some injuries, but who doesn't have a few aches and pains when they're pushing 50?
In 5 Simple Ways to Overcome "Death by Desk", I wrote about how I gave up my office chair and embraced a new way of working. I walk every day, take supplements, and even take breaks to reduce eye strain. I'm on the right path.
Yet, there is still so much work to do. I'm a microbusiness advocate and I've been preaching about business skills for years. I've always said small business owners, like myself, need a strong foundation of basic skills to run their businesses. And I missed one of the most important skills of all - learning to live a healthy life.
There is a saying that your health is everything. I've told my students that a thousand times, but never understood how important it is for our businesses. I've even struggled with personal health issues, while trying to run a business, and still believed that my health wasn't a business issue.
That was a mistake.
While it's taken me 20 years to get here, I now believe that our health is one of our most important business assets. It's not two separate issues, but one overall lifestyle that has the ability to crush our business or help us succeed.
Here're a few pieces of the health puzzle that are essential for business ownership:
You're in an important meeting. You know it's necessary to stay focused and speak convincingly. You've practiced what you're going to say, and you have all your notes ready. You're going to blow them away...
If you could only stop yawning.
We're a sleep deprived nation. Arianna Huffington The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time wrote a bestselling book on the topic and says the lack of sleep "undermines our work lives". Don't take your sleep issues lying down (pun totally intended). Do something about it. Read this book, talk to your doctor, buy sleep music - I don't care.
Sleep isn't a luxury, but as important as good nutrition and exercise. You can't build a healthy foundation when you're physically and mentally drained from a lack of sleep. Make sleep one of your biggest health and business priorities.
Stable Mental Health
Owning a business is stressful, overwhelming, difficult, taxing, and draining. Add in life challenges - children, marriage, divorce, financial difficulties, death and environmental disasters - and you've got a straight path to the nearest asylum.
You can't manage a successful business if your mental health isn't stable, so find ways to learn how to deal with the stress in your life. Bill Duane, who created meditation classes for Google, says "meditation here isn't an opportunity to reflect upon the impermanence of existence but a tool to better oneself and improve productivity."
Meditation is one of the ways I've learned to manage my mental state. You may find exercise or a hobby work for you. The key is to learn coping strategies to reduce stress, and not pretend that your mental health doesn't have a direct impact on your bottom line.
I recently found out that I'm vitamin-D deficient and that I'm losing bone density. For a woman my age, I can expect to lose about 1% per year. I have bursitis in my hip and degenerative disk disease. So now I take several supplements every day to combat these issues, including an algae-derived calcium supplement that reverses age-related bone mass decline.
First, it doesn't matter what my medical issues are. What matters is that I'm actively taking steps to combat and prevent these health problems from becoming bigger issues. I read studies, I talk to others my age with similar problems, and I seek out medical help. I don't put my head in the sand and pretend it doesn't matter. I may not love doing everything I need to do, yet I pulled up my big girl panties when I needed to get a damn colonoscopy.
Why? Because I know the well-being of my business (and life!) hinges on my continued good health.
Start Managing Your Health as a Business Asset
None of us will ever have perfect health. It's a myth or urban legend - it simply doesn't exist. And even if we theoretically had perfect health, we'd probably get run over by a bus.
The idea isn't to try to be perfect, but trying to live as healthy as possible. Running your business is challenging and some days it will take all your strength just to survive. Some days you'll simply fail, and get sick. And on those days, your business will suffer.
It's time to think differently about the connection between your health and your business. It's time to treat your health like an asset (which it is) and manage it to the best of your ability.
Because your business can't survive without you.