Today, I want to tell you how a major career decision led me down a path of growth and self-improvement, and give you a few tips to optimize your own personal and professional life.
Starting your own company can be scary. You’re entering uncharted waters. Even if you’re an expert in your field with a great network full of quality connections, there are still a ton of things you have to learn about the day to day requirements of owning and maintaining a business.
I was coming up on my 38th birthday when I decided it was time to leave the corporate world behind in order to start maximizing my talents for web development and graphic design. On top of that, my wife was about to have our second child in a few months - so, no pressure, right?
Anyone who’s had kids knows that the first six months are one of the hardest times in parenthood. The one thing we had going for us was we had done this once before, so we at least knew sort of what to expect - dirty diapers, indiscriminate vomiting, sleep deprivation, an endless stream of laundry - which are ultimately dwarfed by moments of profound joy and love.
During my wife’s pregnancy, I had put on a few extra pounds (the sympathy weight struggle is real people), and I had fallen out of my normal fitness routine. I also knew that the first few months of sleep deprivation were going to make it challenging to get back into any sort of regular fitness regimen.
Despite these challenges, I was fortunate enough to get my business off the ground and began growing my customer base within just a few short months.
Around this same time, I started studying personal growth and delving into the world of biohacking. Not the crazy, fringe biohacking where people implant chips under their skin to do simple things like unlock their car door - but more natural forms of biohacking - such as minimum effective dose exercise, intermittent fasting, heat, and cold exposure and sleep optimization strategies. I reasoned that the best way to optimize my professional performance was to optimize my personal performance.
I loved working from home and the added freedom it afforded me, but being your own boss also takes a lot of discipline, so I knew that one of the first things I needed to do was to optimize my workspace for maximum efficiency and long term health.
While the debate still rages on about whether sitting or standing all day is worse for you, my guess would be the best approach is probably somewhere in the middle.
During my years in corporate America, I convinced my boss to buy everyone in the department a sit-stand desk. I loved the versatility of being able to choose how I wanted to work. I would start the day standing and when my feet got tired I could rest them, and vice versa. I would try to change positions several times throughout the day.
Now that I was working from home and attempting to optimize my office space, I researched some different standing desk options and Autonomous jumped out at me as being a perfect solution - sturdy, stylish, versatile, yet still affordable for a new business owner.
As soon as I had enough money set aside, I ordered my Autonomous SmartDesk2 Home Edition and ErgoStool. This allowed me to change positions throughout the day with the touch of a button - from sitting to standing - and the ErgoStool gave me better posture habits while in a sitting position.
We all know that poor posture is not a good look - but it goes beyond simple aesthetics. Studies indicate that a poor posture can activate your sympathetic nervous system by decreasing testosterone and increasing cortisol - one of your primary stress hormones - and putting you in “fight or flight” mode.
“In a series of experiments, Peper found that sitting in a collapsed, helpless position makes it easier for negative thoughts and memories to appear while sitting in an upright, powerful position makes it easier to have empowering thoughts and memories.” 1
This is similar to the research done on power poses and how they can help your psychology before you’re about to engage in a stressful activity. I recommend watching Amy Cuddy’s popular TED Talk: Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are to learn more.
In recent years, research around the benefits of mindfulness and meditation has exploded and the science is finally catching up with what monks and mystics have been espousing for centuries.
Part of the reason these practices work so well is that they help tone the vagus nerve - the large nerve complex that runs from your brain to your gut and is connected to nearly every major organ in your body. The vagus nerve is responsible for your parasympathetic nervous system - or your “rest and digest” system - which acts as a counterbalance to your “fight or flight” system.
When these two systems are out of balance - specifically when your sympathetic nervous system is dominant - this can lead to excess stress, anxiety, and depression. Sitting still, practicing deep breathing, and focusing on feelings of compassion, gratitude, and forgiveness aren’t just “woo woo spiritual monk BS” - science is now showing that they affect us on a deep physiological level as well. 2
The lesson here is that sometimes it’s the little things that make the most difference. Improving your posture can result in less stress, improved confidence, and greater resilience in the face of challenges - all things a small business owner needs. If a simple biohack like buying a standing desk can result in such a powerful cascade of positive effects, imagine what just a few small changes like this could add up to.
So many times, we think about how we can be more efficient at our jobs without putting much thought into the actual environment we’re working in. Optimizing my work environment with Autonomous products has been one of the best things I’ve done for my business and productivity.
I feel fortunate that I get to actually make money doing what I love - and I’m proud to say that Autonomous has played a key role in my personal and professional success. I hope that some of the topics I discussed here have inspired you to continue down your own path towards optimizing your mind, body, and soul - and I wish you many years of success!
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