Trying to Keep the Hustle in Check

SunsetAvalonVacation, and the days immediately following, are perfect for reflection.

Upon returning from a week and a half vacation last month, with nearly 95% separation from work, I was extremely relaxed and my mind as clear as it’s been in a long time.  Yet, leading up to this vacation, I was as stressed out and overwhelmed as I’ve ever been.  Work exploded after (too) many years of being in a recession and home life was as it always is with two active boys and a house/property to take care of — fun, but not easy.  Not by a long shot.

In short, I needed a vacation bad.

The problem I was having and that needed correcting, as I see now with my newly, clear mind, was that I was in an endless cycle that was constantly feeding itself.  Work stress and the challenges of life, and the attention they commanded, were causing me to spend my remaining energy on coping, not advancing.  Running was replaced by napping; going to bed early and reading replaced by wine and staying up late.  My (warped) theory at the time being that I would try to salvage some level of fun and combat the stress in my life by pretending I was in my 20s again.

The truth is that I was spending whatever energy I had left for my personal time in the wrong places.

Those first few days of returning to work after vacation were eye-opening.  Complaining sessions with a co-worker in the morning, that used to be like therapy, were now horrifying to me.  I saw myself of a few weeks earlier present in this co-worker, didn’t like what I was seeing, and vowed to never go back to that.  I didn’t want to be around this guy and had to assume people didn’t want to be around me when I used to act that way.  I knew I needed to make a change right then and there.

I’m glad I’m writing this article a month down the line because it has given me time to hit some bumps in the road post-vacation and learn from them.  To be honest, I hit a big bump as soon as day 3 and that really bummed me out.  I was thinking, “If my ‘Vacation Brad’ mentality can’t even last past day 3, something is seriously wrong with me.”  The good thing is such thoughts didn’t linger and “Vacation Brad” was back just a quick.

My theory above the nuts and bolts of the changes I’m making is — each morning presents a fresh opportunity to appreciate all that I have and enjoy what is in front of me.

Basically, it’s okay to have a bad day and get frustrated with work or potty training or the lawn needing to be cut (again!), but when I open my eyes the next morning it’s time to put all of that behind me and tackle life with a smile on my face.  I can’t do the “enjoy every moment” thing or practice the “live each day like you are dying” approach.  I’ve tried.  I’m simply too impatient and have way too many opinions in a world that presents me with too much to question.  So, this is what I believe will work for me — allowing myself to get frazzled, as long as I hit the reset button the next morning and start my day by appreciating what I have and what’s to come.

The nuts and bolts going forward:

1 — Not allowing work, and to a lesser degree, the typical life stuff we all deal with, to consume so much of my energy/patience/well-being.  We all face the same challenges and I have to stop taking these things so personally.  There are problems and challenges that need to stay on the surface, and not deep down in my core.  It’s okay to let my boss get under my skin, but I can no longer “bring him home” with me.

2 — Making better decisions with my personal time with the time/energy I have left.  Run more, eat better, read, write, and relax.

Misc — I’m doing little things like driving with the radio off.  This helps cut out pointless/repetitive noise and lets my mind focus.  I’ve taken email and social media off of my phone for the same reason.  Volunteering my time in kid related activities — mentally rewarding activities that make me feel like a better dad.

Do I now know how to keep the hustle in check?  No.

Do I now have a better game plan and feel better about myself on a daily basis?  Yes.

Hopefully this perspective helps some of you who are facing similar challenges in life.  I’m open to discussing any of this, would love to hear any advice and input that you have, and wish you nothing but the best in your lives and appreciation for the gifts that you have.


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Enjoy a unique, fresh and entertaining perspective on parenting as Brad the Dad learns what it takes to raise 2 boys in today's world. #DadsRT co-founder.

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  1. Hey Brad, Love this post and I can certainly relate to much of it. In the past year or so, I’ve become somewhat of a “mindset” junkie. In other words, I never really paid much attention to external influences and how they affected my mind and my attitude. I used to spend my entire 2-hour daily commute listening to sports talk radio. What a complete waste of time. Not only that, but 90% of the conversation was negative. So I would start and end my day with negativity. Lately I’ve been avoiding the TV news too. I got that tip from the great motivational speaker Walter Bond. He asks, “When was the last time you watched a newscast and afterwards said to yourself, ‘I feel pretty good about the direction of our city, country and the human race in general.'”
    For my commute, I’ve turned to podcasts (Stitcher App & iTunes) and audio books (Audible). I only listen to content that inspires me to do greater things. It’s an awesome & positive way to start and end my day. I feel like my commute is a 2 hour daily education instead of 2 wasted hours that I’ll never get back. I don’t know if your commute is a long one, or if you spend a lot of time driving to different sites for work, but you may want to give this a try yourself. Good luck brother!

    • Brad the Dad says:

      Totally on sports talk radio. I used to be a junkie for that noise and after a big loss would always think — I can’t wait for sports radio tomorrow! Now, I can’t even remember the last time I listened to it. Same with the news on tv, as you point out as well. I spend a ton of time driving for my job and just have been turning the radio off. Listening to the wind through my windows and the thoughts in my head. Been thinking lately about learning Spanish, so I might get that on audio for my drives. Thanks for sharing your input on this.

This is what I think...