Many of us strive to take better care of our bodies. We try to eat healthier, stay active, and get enough sleep. We’re told to listen to our bodies and treat them like a temple. While your everyday goals may focus on slimming your waistline or increasing your muscle mass, when it comes to your career, there are three body parts you need to pay attention to:
Your brain is responsible for performance. It solves problems, generates new ideas, and helps you communicate your message. But if you don’t work to grow and nourish your brain, it will atrophy.
If you’re like me, it’s been a while since you’ve last been in school, but just because you’ve completed your formal education, doesn’t mean you can stop learning. By reading books, taking courses, listening to interviews, and meeting new people, you feed your brain and help it grow. The smartest person in the room isn’t necessarily the one born with the highest IQ or natural intellect; it’s the person who is constantly seeking knowledge and has a thirst for learning.
Your brain has the ability to weigh pros and cons, and to tap into its knowledge to make informed decisions. But just because something looks good on paper, doesn’t mean it’s the best course of action. This is where you have to listen to your gut. Whether you’re taking a new job, hiring someone, or launching a new product, your gut will tell you if something is off. It will churn and contort, desperately trying to put you on a new course.
But you have to listen.
Like your brain, your gut will atrophy if you don’t care for it, and to care for it, you must listen. You must get out of your head and into your body, and take the time to learn its signals. This cannot be done while you’re on your phone or on your computer, vigorously working to complete to-do lists and projects. It requires slowing down, quieting down, and really listening. You can meditate, take long walks, or take a drive. Let your mind wander, and as different thoughts enter your mind, listen and pay attention to how your body reacts. That’s your gut talking… And it will guide you to discovering exactly what’s making you feel uncomfortable. In some situations, it may turn out to be only fear-of-change anxiety. In others, though, it can help you pinpoint why a course of action would likely lead to regret. In any case, developing the ability to listen to—and rely on—your gut will help you move forward in your decisions with confidence.
You can have all the skills needed to perform at your job and have a strong gut that always leads you in the right direction, but if your heart isn’t in it, you’re not going to reach your full potential. I understand that not everyone loves their job; if they did, I wouldn’t need to emphasize the importance of heart. But there should be a love and passion that fuels it. Maybe your job affords you the financial security to do other things you love (travel, provide for your family, etc.) Maybe this job is a stepping stone for the career you ultimately want to have. Whatever the motivation, your heart should be in the work you do.
And if it’s not? Then maybe it’s time to reflect on why you’re doing it in the first place. According to the American Time Use Survey, the average person spends 35 percent of their lifetime working. That is WAY too much time to spend doing something when your heart isn’t in it. Take some time to reflect on what you want your life to look like–not just the day to day, but the year to year. Brainstorm ways to achieve that and start making moves toward the life you want.
You only get one body, and I believe it’s important to take care of it. Eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of rest will keep you going. But to reach your full potential, it isn’t enough to just keep going; you need to excel. Once you spend time nurturing your brain, your gut, and your heart, you’ll notice a shift in the areas in which you excel. And most likely, that shift will be towards the life and career trajectory you desire.