Celebrating Men’s Health Week | Sense of Progress and Well-being
It is my experience that having a sense of progress in life, of improving and moving forwards is vital, especially for us men. While true health comes from many levels (physical, emotional, spiritual and more) a sense of progress provides a psychological refuge from the mundane of every day life.
Knowing that our lives are not standing still, that today we are more advanced than a couple of years ago, gives a sense of accomplishment and a reason to keep going despite the challenges and pressures that are an integral part of being a man.
Having a clear sense of progress can propel us to overcome huge challenges and break through barriers. However, it is not always easily accessible and recognising it is not automatic.
For those of us who are highly demanding of ourselves and our lives, this sense of progress is especially critical and there are many strategies and pathways to access and maintain it.
A concept that I call over regularly to myself is this: “No one minds the pain if they know the reason why” or with some variation for this topic : “We men don’t mind the challenges – the ups and the downs, providing we are actually making progress”
It is very difficult to keep up a sense of progress in every area of our lives at all times, especially in business when sometimes it is not clear if you are going backwards or forwards, but having at least one dynamic in life can provide us with the necessary fuel to keep going. This “Clear Sense Of Progress” (CSOP) fuel needs to be introduced into our system like stopping to fill the car with petrol. But how do you generate this fuel where is the CSOP filling station? Like so many things it has to be worked for and developed.
So, what makes a good CSOP dynamic?
• We enjoy it and look forward to engaging in the doing of it
• It provides an unlimited source of possible development and progress
• It ticks many boxes at the same time: physical, emotional, mental etc.
Let me share an example from my own life which hopefully resonates:
A few years ago, I started to feel the accumulation of working under stress for so many years. Starting our business, Table of Plenty from nothing, in the FMCG space in Australia which is one of the most competitive industries out there, was incredibly challenging. Working with highly optimised businesses such as the major supermarkets in Australia doesn’t allow you to slow down and to relax. On top of it being a father to two kids and to Amy our daughter who was born with a disability without having family around to support us, placed high demands on my levels of energy and wellbeing. It started to take its toll.
Being highly motivated in my life I realised that the relentless nature of what I was now dealing with would run me empty if I did not find a way to recharge my energy levels. One of the ways I found is to have a clear sense of progress which impacted my motivation and propelled me to keep performing at a high level consistently.
I started looking for an activity that I can do in my own free time that will generate this fuel for me.
I found it in Kitesurfing.
The impact was immediate.
It ticked so many boxes: Flying things always attracted me since I was very young. I built aeroplanes from early age and later joined the airforce.
Spending enough time in nature was also one of the things I was looking for. There is nothing like nature to recharge and re-align us and being engaged in a demanding physical activity was also important for me. And above all finding an activity where I can clearly measure progress, gives me a sense of achievement that impacts other areas of my life.
Well I was fortunate to find this in kitesurfing: the combination of the sea, the sun, the wind the kite, the excitement, the unknown that every session is, ticks so many boxes for me.
But also as any surfer knows it provides you with unlimited opportunity to tap into the fuel of CSOP. Kitesurfing like many other similar activities gives you endless opportunities for your skill development. Because I love it, I don’t need self discipline to do it. At the end of an intense day, I look forward to it each time. Each time it is new and when I go out I take with me three things that I want to work on during a session. I make sure that at some point during the session I will I do a bit of practice to keep shaping my stance, my turns, my jumps, my landings and overall skills.
In the last year alone I made huge steps forward with skills development which provides a sense of accomplishment and knowing that I am progressing – a CSOP fuel. This feeling of satisfaction helps in other areas of life where I feel a less clear sense of progression. So, have a look at your life and ask yourself, if you have such sources of fuel that provides CSOP.
Start by finding out what do your really enjoy doing, what would be the one activity that you can do that can tick as many boxes as possible for you. It is different for each of us and you have to find the things that work best for you. It can be drawing, learning a musical instrument, learning another language, golf, mountain biking etc etc.
Once you find a CSOP fuel source and you commit to it, you will be amazed by the benefits it provides to all areas of life and to your wellbeing.
Co-founder and Director of Table of Plenty and the Life of Plenty philosophy