This article is part of a LinkedIn series “Best Day at Work” written by professionals from around the globe discussing their ideal work day! Visit LinkedIn Pulse to submit your own piece.
Life is an amazing teacher and has taught me that ideals are the foundation of everything good. It is rare that our lives actually reflect the perfect manifestation of our ideals, but it is the times when our present moment reality is farthest from our ideal that our ideals become that much more important.
As Louisa May Alcott once said, “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
Ideals remind us to keep pushing, to course correct, to stay strong, to celebrate what is working, to identify evidence that we are headed in the right direction.
Six years ago I moved to Boulder, Colorado to attend graduate school.
I have always been a hard worker, some people, myself included, would even suggest I have workaholic tendencies. Having been born and raised on the east coast, my life before Boulder looked something like:
Wake up grouchy, work hard and then harder, come home exhausted, sleep (barley), and repeat.
That is the way most east coasters live their lives, so I never thought much of it.
However, when I got to Boulder, I was exposed to a new way of living. For the first time in my life I saw success modeled as lifestyle freedom instead of stress levels, job title or paycheck size. I saw people integrating their lives, working hard, playing harder, and resting when they needed to.
This new perspective inspired and comforted me.
I got to “work” learning how to play and rest.
This might sound silly to some, but play and rest are both about being present and this was never easy for me. Play and rest are also both dependent on the foundation of positive self worth.
For me, it was hard to come to grips with the fact that I didn’t feel worthy. I didn’t feel like I deserved to play and rest.
When trying new things it can be important to exaggerate and explore extremes and that’s exactly what I did.
I went to school and did my work, I even got straight A’s, but once my responsibilities were done I played as hard as I could and slept like I had never slept before.
All the health issues, physical and emotional, that had plagued me for years began to recede.
This new vital vibrant self was the physiological baseline that became my new ideal.
When grad school was nearing it’s end, my body told me:
“No, you don’t actually want to become a therapist.”
I knew this because the difference I felt in my body between my new physiological baseline and the way I felt thinking about my life as a therapist, was in aggressive contrast.
I had been planning to become a therapist for as long as I could remember. I had no idea what I would do or who I would be if I didn’t see this through, but ultimately, I had to trust my gut and quit grad school.
After a bit of reflection, I decided to try my hand at coaching, so I started my first business.
This business, like most first businesses, wasn’t anything to write home about. However, it lit the fire in my soul and hooked me on the idea (unless you did mean “ideal”, but it seems “idea” fits) of being my own boss in a lifestyle business that would be a source of good for this world.
Six years later, I am a proud Co-Founder and the Director of Program Development at Rebel + Connect.
My ideal workplace, in collaboration with my amazing Co-Founders Rachel McGehee and Summer Weirich, is being built and refined everyday.
This ideal workplace is informed by the ideals I mentioned previously. At the core of what we value and work towards actualizing is a business that allows each of us to wake up more often than not and enact our ideal work day.
Funny thing about polarities, extremes and exaggerations is that when you over use one energy or skill you start to see it’s downsides. This is no less true for work, play, and rest.
Work alone is not a life, but neither is play or rest.
Life, dynamic vitality, comes from the interplay of these three energies. The variation keeps things fresh and the moderation keeps things healthy.
These days, my ideal workday is one that incorporates all these energies, work, play, and rest. It is also inspired by the ayurvedic cycle, a foundational aspect of ayurvedic science out of which yoga was born to the world.
It’s also worth noting that a desire to have control over my day in this way, is a huge reason that remote work is my ideal.
I start my day with rest.
If you are a get up and hustle to go kind person, this might seem like a death sentence to your day. However, if you understand rest as a period of preparation, nurturing, and setting yourself up for success you may think again.
I take a hot shower to wake up my body. I use body products with energizing smells like peppermint, jasmine, and rose. I stretch and meditate. Finally, while eating a healthy breakfast, I read industry news and articles from my favorite blogs, and schedule them to share with my tribe.
When I feel grounded in this wakeful world, I start to “work.”
This routine is about easing my body into the day so that I am not running on unsustainable adrenaline and crashing come sundown.
Rest and self-care is probably the hardest things for me to commit to. From an ayurvedic perspective, I have a Pitta-Vata dual dosha as my constitution. If I want to ensure I rest, I need to align with the natural cycles and prioritize rest at dawn and dusk.
Scheduling these self-care rest activities for this time of day allows me to channel Kapha energy.
It took me years to realize why I was such a loathsome morning person and committed night owl. Starting my day this way is still a practice for me.
As blogger James Clear explains, “This productivity strategy is straightforward: Do the most important thing first each day.“
Work, from an energetic perspective, is the act of getting shit done. That is why I do my task management and make my to do list my B$&*@#(tch as soon as I sit down in front of my computer.
Scheduling this “to do list” practice for this time window also allows me to channel Pitta energy.
Once I have empowered myself with a big dose of productivity, I move into my professional play space.
In a professional capacity play is about creativity and social contact, being present right here right now.
This looks like problem solving, networking calls, social media time, and brainstorming.
Placing these types of activities in this time window allows me to channel the energy of Vata.
As a recovering workaholic and a remote worker, I have to be extra careful that I don’t become a hermit. Not that there is anything wrong with hermits, but I am also an extrovert and I need human contact to recharge.
Putting social bookends in place that force me to step away from my computer and step outside of my own mind is a huge self care practice.
When 6 o’clock rolls around my ideal is to stop engaging with my professional roles, step away, and reconnect with myself and my loved ones.
Sleep… with the help of relaxing oils like lavender and an sleep hypnosis tracks I am able to induce high quality sleep with ease, regardless of how my brain maybe racing. My ideal is 8 hours or solid sleep.
Last but not least, my ideal work day is one that has self-love and flexibility as a through-line.
As a startup founder in the early stages of business growth, with team members in different states and collaborators in different countries, this ideal it not always attainable.
This ideal is, however, always there reminding me not to stray to far from my own vision of balancing work, play, and rest, building a lifestyle business, and achieving lifestyle freedom.
And maybe just maybe I will pass on more life enhancing lifestyle modeling to my future children so they to can reach out and touch this world in a way that leaves it better off than when they came to be blessed with the miraculous gift of human life.
P.S. Everyone has their own unique recipe of ideals that when embodied together will allow them to manifest their dream workday, workplace, and lifestyle. Share your ideals with us in the comments section below.
P.P.S. This is part 1 of a 2 part series co-authored by Charlie Birch and Summer Weirich. Part 2 can be found here.
Rebel + Connect creates custom retreats for remote teams. A Colorado based company owned and operated by Charlie Birch, Rachel McGehee, and Summer Weirich, we operate remotely and service clients from all over the globe. Join us as we create cultures of meaning and celebrate human connections in a digital world!
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