I am a go-getter. I’ve worked two jobs simultaneously since the age of 18, paid for my post-secondary schooling out of pocket and went to four different countries in the span of a year (oh how I miss 2015). I work a lot. Having spent the last 6 years extending myself between two jobs and school, I’ve learned that focusing on your personal well-being is just as important, if not more so, than all of those things.
When I started running, it was mostly for health reasons. I was overweight, eating horribly, perpetually stressed out (thanks Ryerson!), and could barely do 2 minutes without needing to stop to catch my breath. Fast forward a year later and I can run a 10K comfortably, workout regularly, and am currently training to run a marathon next spring. In the year that I have dedicated myself to running I’ve seen myself grow in ways that I could never imagine, and to my surprise, it has improved my work life tremendously.
When I first started running I could only run for a couple minutes at a time, but after a couple weeks I was up to about 5 minutes of continuous running, then 10, then 20 and now 5K on a daily basis. Running is hard, mentally and physically, and there are times when it makes you regret all of your life decisions. But it pushes you out of your comfort zone, and that is a quality you can apply to anything in life, including work. Just remember, the end result is only great because of the struggle that came before it.
Once you're dedicated, consistency is easy
Being able to run long distances takes a lot of cardiac ability, and that does not come easy; it’s something you have to dedicate significant time and energy to. Having two jobs and going to school made it easy for me to justify skipping a run because I was tired or had no time. But, when you truly decide to dedicate yourself to something, you make time for it, no matter what. And so, I started getting up at 5:30am every morning to go for a run. Not only did it teach me about dedication, but also how dedication and consistency go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other. Whether it is with running or work, putting in the work every day is essential for your success.
You're forced to put yourself first
There is no shortage of studies on the importance of exercise on mental health. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce levels of stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression, in addition to improving your physical health and sleeping habits. As start out in your career, it is important to establish healthy routines early on that will last. In the past year that I’ve dedicated myself to running, I’ve noticed a change in my work habits resulting in improved productivity because I am more rested, focused, and my stress levels are at an all-time low. Running has forced me to put my mind and body first; if you can do that, everything else will become a lot easier.
It’s the purest form of happiness
I cannot express how important it is to find something you enjoy that you don’t get paid for. Whether it is volunteering at a non-profit organization, pole dancing, knitting or painting, having something that gives you genuine enjoyment really is important. When you take money out of the equation, it makes doing something so much more special because then it is truly for you.
Find something that makes you happy outside of work. I recognize how easy it is to lose yourself in the job; I myself have spent the last six years doing just that. What I’ve come to realize, however, is that work isn’t everything. Fifty years from now, when you're retired with no more work to speak of, what will you have? As Hillary Clinton proclaimed, "Don't confuse having a career with having a life."
Written by: Ashleigh H.