Learning from Exercise

A long time ago I decided to run every day. I did for a bit, in fact, I had a neat milestone along the way and continued on for 1564 days. That was quite a memorable period in my life, and one that I look back upon fondly. I’ve aged a bit, and while I could do it again, I also have decided there are other things that matter more to me, so I have moved on in life.  I learned a lot from that time, lessons about myself and life that continue to help me today. Some of them even apply to work and my career, little nuggets of wisdom that help me find ways to find success in my life.

Apart from some better fitness, one of the main benefits for me was the sense of accomplishment. I had no bad days where I would think I wished I had run. None. That seems obvious, but it also provided me some comfort that I had moved things forward in my life. I took that lesson back to work, where I sometimes have bad days. I have days where nothing goes right, or I have people that take over my day and schedule.

I know there are also a number of things that I need to do at work, which aren’t that important, or even aren’t that critical, but they provide a measure of satisfaction that I’ve moved things forward. These days that is often getting things scheduled for the newsletter. In the past it might be doing a little space extrapolation (though I’d just look at this in SQL Monitor today). Low value items, but I get some accomplishment in the midst of otherwise stressful times when I get something small done that is on my list.

The other thing that came from the running streak was the feeling of getting away from other parts of my life. Whether with family or work, I might be overwhelmed or stressed or otherwise out of sorts in my day. Taking 20-30 minutes for myself was a way of resetting my day, and it was a welcome break. While exercise is my thing, and even today it’s a priority around work, I’ve had other crutches that help me cope. I love to read, so taking 5 minutes to escape in a book every day is something that feels similar to exercise.

I know other friends that might play a short game, play with a pet. Having some other consistent, distracting activity is a good release when things are tough. No matter how busy we are, or what’s broken, taking 5, 10, 15 minutes away can help refresh you and get you ready to go back into the trenches and deal with others.

I’m sure jobs exist that can’t spare the time, but I’ve never had one. I haven’t always realized it until later, but I wish someone had told me to take 10 minutes away in a crisis to reset myself and then come back. I know I’ll remember that the next time I end up being stressed during an IT problem at work.

Steve Jones

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