People often ask how I got into the wellness business. How is it that a man who spent over twenty-six year years in Transportation Logistics, many of those years at an executive level with a mid-size international corporation now helps people learn to take responsibility for their own health and well-being one step at a time? The answer to that is actually pretty simple.
The corporate world is not an easy place to be. Don’t misunderstand me, it can be a very rewarding place to be, but it is not an easy one. With the politics, the deadlines, the economy, demanding customers– the stress never seems to end. I know this is not unique to the corporate world. In fact, it holds true in every sector and every profession, but the corporate jungle is where my experience lies.
Over the years I watched as many of my friends and colleagues tried to deal with the demands of an ever more competitive economy and market. Add in the personal stress that escalates as the kids hit the teen years, the bills keep growing, and parents who need care as they age, and you end up with a perfect storm of sorts.
I know the feelings because it happened to me as well as my colleagues. The funny thing is that you don’t realize what is happening to you during that time. My wake-up call came when I was traveling on business. I happened to catch sight of a man walking near me, and I couldn’t help but notice how much like the stereotypical middle-aged, paunchy, grey haired businessman he looked, complete with boarding pass sticking out of his shirt pocket. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was walking near a smoked window and that man was my reflection. Of course, I didn’t consider myself middle-aged or out of shape at the time. I was only about forty but looked about fifteen or twenty years older, and was about twenty-five pounds overweight. Not a good thing.
The simple truth was that I just didn’t know how to take care of myself, my career, and my personal life at the same time. After all, that is a lot to juggle. So I decided to learn how to take care of myself first in order to have more to give to my family and then to my career. I had to recalibrate my priorities.
Once I realized what had happened to me, I really started to notice it in other people. My friends were always tired, constantly sick, and steadily gaining weight year after year. Most importantly, they didn’t seem to be enjoying their work anymore. They were on autopilot, just trying to get through each daily crisis. Worse yet, they didn’t discuss their personal (or professional) successes with the same joy they had in years past. No one seemed to be very happy.
When the company I ran was finally closed, I had a choice. I could either find another job in the corporate world of transportation or I could find a way to help other midlife professionals reexamine their priorities and take control of their own health and well-being so they could live now instead of waiting until retirement. And since I hated to see so many of my friends and colleagues sleepwalking through their best years, the choice was pretty simple. Not easy–but pretty simple.
Now I champion the quest to improve the health and well-being of all of us fifty-something Boomers. Let’s face it, we have created pretty amazing lives, but we don’t take care of ourselves well enough to really reap the benefits of what we have sown. And at the rate a lot of us are going, we won’t be around to enjoy the retirement we are working so hard to provide for ourselves. In fact, studies show that across populations those in the middle-age group (45-65) show the lowest levels of well-being when compared to the younger and older segments of the population. These studies also show that increasing well-being in that age group significantly decreases the probability of a major health event or hospital admission.
Another reason it pays to actively improve your own well-being.
The World Health Organization defines health as “ a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Unfortunately, many of us define health as not being sick. We don’t always consider optimal physical condition or social and mental well-being as part of the definition. However, like so many things in life, well-being is made up of a trinity–the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. If one is out of balance, it creates a domino effect on the others. We may like to think they are separate issues, but they aren’t. If you want the benefits of real health–the ability to get the most out of your life everyday–you need to take each segment into consideration.
Coaching Question of the Week: How do you define your own health? Do you focus mainly on the physical aspect, or do you give equal time to the other two components? Do you worry about it at all?
Feel free to comment or share. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
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