I recently read an article in a popular business journal about how a journalist tried getting up early for two weeks and found it far too hard.
“Oprah says she gets up early, and so does Elon Musk. Steve Jobs did it, so why not me?” you might say. The fact is, these people try to get up early as often as they can, but sometimes they sleep in.
You can get up early and get a jump start on the day most of the week, but sometimes your body needs to sleep. You can read business books most of the time and learn from the best in the business, but sometimes you have to watch a TV show or read a fun book. You can work out like a fiend and push yourself as hard as possible, but sometimes you just need a bon-bon and a break.
Here are a few best practices I’ve gathered from various sources about personal as well as professional development:
Sometimes you need to get ahead — and sometimes you need a break. Getting up early is great because you get to your inbox and your to-do list before most people get out of bed. Maybe you get in a workout before you start pushing your brain, but there are days when you simply need to take a break. Skip the gym that day and give your body a rest. Avoid the commute so you can be fresher when you engage on the phone.
Sometimes you need a little time alone, even when you’re supposed to be networking. On a business trip, you are always on. You are doing meetings, having dinners and socializing with colleagues, partners and customers. I can do this, but I need at least an hour here or there when I can power down. I need a quiet room and nobody to talk to me so I can recharge the batteries. Trust me — everyone does.
Sometimes you need to ask for help. There are days when you feel like you can conquer the world, and other times when you don’t think you can do anything right. These crises of confidence happen to everyone, and you have to self-aware enough to know they are happening. You need to pay attention to how you are approaching the tasks laid out in front of you, and sometimes you need to ask for help. It can be an ear to help you prioritize, or it can be someone to simply vent to. Either way, it can help.
Most of all, you need to cut yourself some slack. The hardest part of being successful is to know that sometimes, you won’t be. Sometimes you will fail or you won’t feel up to the task. Ryan Seacrest is probably the hardest-working person on earth, but I have to assume some days he just says, “hold up.” If that happens to him, you have to know it happens to everyone else.
Realize that even though you hold yourself to a high standard, you have to be willing to take a break, maybe not live up to your routine for a day. All those successful people are able to find some balance, so why can’t you?