It seems like a simple thing to do — forget about work, missions, goals, whatever is on your mind, kick back, and chill out. So, how can I be sitting on a beach, beer in hand, and beach music filling the air and still be thinking about writing a business proposal? Not only thinking, but planning, and drafting sections of the proposal in my head? To make it worse, I have to rope my wife into it and ask her what she thinks of certain phrasings and concepts.
Being able to truly relax and turn off my brain has never been a strong suit of mine. Relaxation is a powerful tool to keep yourself sharp, recharged, and innovative in your thought process. The problem is finding ways to push yourself out of your own head and really chill.
The military environment is set up to completely absorb an individual’s life both physically and mentally. They don’t say, “service is not a job, it’s lifestyle” for no reason. When I was in the military, everything I did was for the military. I went to work, worked out, studied, relaxed — even my hobbies were related to my profession. I loved the fact that every part of my life affected my performance in the Army.
This is a stark contrast to the business world, where you can completely neglect a major part of your life and still be stellar in another. For example, you could eat like garbage and not work out and still be an amazing project manager. If I stopped working out in the military… we all know how that would go. This mentality of complete absorption breeds loyalty, accelerated improvement, and pride in not only your job but also the organization. However, this is very rare to find in the business world and it leaves a lot of people wanting more. Now, as a veteran, I have to find a reason to do everything and prioritize each one: my job is for money, I work out for health, and I relax for…?
Focusing on the benefits of being able to relax has helped me get out of my own head. I know that if I give my brain and body time to recover, I can come back harder and be even more effective than if I just continued to toil. Becoming a father has also realigned my priorities and bumped relaxation up a couple of levels. I don’t want to be stressed out or thinking about something else when I’m with my daughter. If you have a partner, use them as well. My wife is quick to smack me in the back of the head if she sees me drifting back to work or hears me asking stupid questions.
An obsessive drive for success is important and can be extremely beneficial to achieve your goals. I appreciate that serving in Special Operations has garnered this drive, but like everything: moderation is key. I hope in the future we can be successful in all facets of our lives and just relax a little.