Listening To The Body

The next guideline I remembered was about listening to my body. Old habits die hard. One of my age old habits is to keep pushing my body even when it tells me it needs rest. I do this by rationalization.

A perfect example is when, a few weeks ago, I woke up with full plans for the day. I wanted to get some boring and necessary admin tasks done, write, shop for food, clean the apartment for my friends coming over that evening, go the therapy, come home, cook and hang with friends. But my body was not aligned. I had a deep achiness in my bones, I felt like resting, chilling, and taking it easy.

Then, started my internal monologue. Why am I tired? This is a silly question. I got enough sleep, I haven’t even been working too hard, I haven’t been traveling, why am I tired? Why do I insist on finding the reason behind fatigue? Maybe I’m tired because I’m sad? Can I just rest today? Am I becoming lazy? Can I let myself be tired today?

I realized that in the past, when I was a product manager, I would work with executive managers who would always ask me: “Why does it take 3 months to complete this project? This is too slow. Why can’t we do it in 2?”

Their questions would frustrate the hell out of me. I would empathize with their needs (they made a promise to a client), the needs of the business (we are losing money in this market) or their personal sentiments (they take estimations for promises). Then, I would calmly and politely explain that in order to go faster we either had to increase resources or decrease the scope; there was no other choice. But deep inside I would fume with anger thinking, “Wow they really have no respect for their employees..” or “Wow they really don’t trust the estimations of their engineers..” or “Wow they really make no sense...”

A lot of judgement.

Since I started working for myself, I have the voices of both the product manager (my past self) and the executive managers (the people I worked for) within me. The external monologue I had with them day to day has become internalized. I estimate my work, do my work, and rationalize my speed, my needs, and my human capacity to myself all at once.

The problem was that the executive managers within me were too loud (as they often are in real life). They were talking too much and not listening to the product managers and engineers, who were saying, look, this is the best speed we’ve got. They were insisting to know the reasons behind the speed while the reasons mattered only to some extent. They mattered when adjustments needed to be made (increasing resources or decreasing scope). If no adjustments could be made (because we couldn’t increase resources or decrease scope), then what mattered more was to listen to them.

So I decided: Listen to your body. Take naps during the day. When you’re tired, simply rest.

Continue reading this series: Where You Come To Work From

Go back to the start: Containing Work When Working For Yourself