💡 Invincible Tip - Time the Ebbs and Flows of Life (Issue #463)
Fighting against the tide is exhausting
A few years ago, I wrote an article (and recorded a podcast episode) about timing your career’s peaks, making the most of your “current wave,” and planning to catch the next wave before it’s too late. You can check it out here:
But, this tip I’m sharing today is more broadly applicable to life, daily routines, and the ebbs and flows you’ll periodically experience. We often try to push through the low times, and we feel guilty about not being as productive 24x7. I know I have felt that way.
I’m here to tell you that it’s just not sustainable. It’s not healthy to treat yourself like a machine that can be flipped on and kept running at high speed forever. Human beings don’t function that way. When we try, we fail. You won’t be doing your best work. Eventually, you will burn out.
Stop fighting the tides. Lean in when things are going well. Recover when they are not.
Daily ebb and flow
Your day has an ebb and flow that is unique to you.
When do you work best?
When do you have the most energy?
When do you feel most creative?
When do you feel too tired to think?
You hear folks say, “I’m a morning person!” Others say, “Oh no, I can’t do mornings. I’m a night owl.” But, until recently, we all had to fit ourselves into the schedule employers wanted. Be in the office at 9 AM, even if you’re a night owl. Stay up and take a call at midnight, even if you’re a morning person who can’t stay awake that late.
If you’re lucky and still have some control over your work schedule, take advantage of your personal rhythms. Use your most energetic time for what you want. Block your calendar to avoid meetings when your energy levels are low. Make your daily schedule fit you!
For example, I know I’m at my most creative in the morning when I have my first cup of coffee. That’s when I need to journal, write, and capture new thoughts. I’ve tried to put my creative activities off and write at night. But, every time I do that, I find myself feeling drained from the day and my creativity is gone by the time the sun sets.
Economic ebbs and flows
The economic reality surrounding you has ebbs and flows, too. There will be times you are in the driver’s seat (e.g., receiving multiple job offers), and there are times when you are at the mercy of what employers decide is best for the company (e.g., Hello, layoffs!).
The funny thing is, most people don’t take advantage of this. When the market is hot, they stay parked in a job with an employer who gives them mediocre raises and infrequent promotions. Not good.
What they should be doing is job hopping while they are a hot commodity and trading up as frequently as possible. Get those “promotions” that occur with a new job and ride that wave as hard and as long as you possibly can. Recognize when you have an advantage, and keep pushing to gain ground.
Because the good times are going to end. They always do. Everything has a cycle. The market will have a downturn, and you’ll be lucky to have a job. You may even be hit with a layoff.
So, on the flip side, know when to huddle and defend your position when the tides turn against you. If you have a job with a reasonable employer, ride out the economic storm in that safe port. Don’t make the mistake of quitting and thinking you’ll find a great new job when every company you know is laying people off.
Career ebbs and flows
Your long-term career will have ebbs and flows (read this article). I’m in year 30+ of my career and I’ve experienced the tidal patterns of the larger journey, and I’ve watched it taking place with friends, family, and clients.
When you expect it and you’re prepared, you recognize when to time your strategic efforts to maximize the opportunities and minimize the negative consequences. When you ignore the reality of it, the waves knock you down and tumble you mercilessly. You will struggle to get back on your feet, over and over again.
Recognize when the timing is ripe during your career and seize the advantage. Push hard and make as much progress as possible. But as you are riding high, remember that what goes up must come down. Prepare your next move wisely.
I knew my time in tech would come to an end at some point. I sensed the ticking clock telling me that I had to make it big by a certain date or plan my graceful exit to slide into my next career outside of tech.
Even now, I’m planning yet another phase of my career. I hear that ticking clock again. I know I’ll reach an age when the younger folks in tech will no longer be looking to me for guidance. There will be a whole new generation of tech leaders and veterans sliding into the mentoring and coaching years of their lives, just as I did.
So, I’m planning ahead and creating my next career wave to ride into retirement (if I ever do retire). Always be looking ahead.
Life’s ebbs and flows
The larger arc of your life has ebbs and flows, as well.
In your 20s, you’re still figuring out how to launch your career, get your personal life in order, and still have time left over for lots of fun.
In your 30s, your life and career start kicking into high gear. Your energy levels are amazing, and the world is your oyster. Many people are seeking a life partner.
In your 40s, the clock starts ticking. Your career is starting to reach its peak. You need to decide if you want to start a family or not. You’d better be seriously investing for your retirement.
In your 50s, you suddenly encounter the ugly reality of ageism. But you also have the perspective to realize what’s important and what is not. If you’re like me, you may decide that working for someone else isn’t as acceptable as it was before. You get a little tired of someone who knows less than you telling you what to do, how to do it, and how to spend your precious remaining time on this planet.
In your 60s, many of us see that our primary career arc is grinding to a halt. We had better figure out a plan B. You gotta have your financial ducks in a row, because your most significant earning years are behind you. But, the freedom and exhilaration of becoming yourself again is more exciting than you can imagine.
In your 70s and beyond, you care more about the things that matter and less about the BS that doesn’t. You have no more patience for a lot of people and their machinations. It’s a magical feeling to tell people, “No” and not care about the consequences. If you’ve been taking care of yourself, your self-confidence soars and you really become who you want to be.
Of course, your mileage may vary. Some people seem to have life all figured out from a very early age. But some of us bumble around and explore things until we finally settle down on a good path.
My point is, life changes, your career changes, and you change. Living in denial won’t do you any favors. Realize that change is normal and it happens to all of us.
Prepare yourself for it, make a plan to time all of those ebbs and flows, and you can create a pretty darn enjoyable lifestyle for the rest of your life.
Hi, I’m Larry Cornett, a Personal Coach who can work with you to optimize your career, life, or business. My mission is to help you take complete control of your work and life so you can become a more “Invincible You.” I currently live in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with my wife and our Great Dane.
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