Since the age of 18 I have achieved many things I am proud of. However, there is so much I wish I were taught at a younger age rather than learning since from so much hard work, trial and error!
To share some quick highlights, at home I am a proud Daddy to three amazing children (currently aged 4, 6 and 10). In the office progressed up to national level in a top FTSE corporate organisation. At age 28 I left the stability of corporate employment to start my first business in 2012 which grew into an international company collecting 26 awards along the way as an entrepreneur and business adviser.
Learning that only 10% of businesses survive the first 10 years of trading, in 2015 I co-authored a highly rated book ‘Creating Business Advantage’ to help aspiring entrepreneurs beat the odds of business failure with simple, practical hacks for building solid foundations for success. My portfolio has diversified in recent years where I have become a lecturer at a business school, Non-Executive Director, an in-demand keynote speaker, launched my own App and have invested in several technology businesses.
It certainly has not been all rosy though! In 2016, after ignoring various physical warnings from my body that I was working too hard for too long, it all became too much when an unexpected tragedy occurred in my private life. That event collided with my ambitious, workaholic personality causing me to badly burnout.
Depression, anxiety, chronic stress related neck and back pain, chronic fatigue, insomnia – just to name a few consequences from the burnout. It was a long road to recovery but I made it to a point where I achieved a happier life and greater business success by rebuilding myself with a much stronger work-life balance, proactive care for my mental fitness and by working smarter with a quality over quantity approach and productivity.
If I could hop back in time and mentor the 18-year old version of myself, here are just 4 of many things I would assertively say:
- Less is More. You do not have to work hard for really long hours over many years to get ahead faster and further! There is now plenty of research that shows that those with sensible working hours (35-45 hours per week) and who balance overall wellbeing with smart, quality working practices are far more productive and happier than those slogging it with 60,70,80+ hour working weeks
- Life can be tragically short. It is good to work hard and plan for a future of career success, early retirement, building a family. However, do not plan too far ahead without enjoying every day and every moment as best as you can. Life should be a balance between doing what we love (time with friends and family, hobbies, rest, exercise, travel etc.) alongside working and studying for long term success. Also, consider the value of choosing a career or business that isn’t all about earning the most money, for example, there is far more enjoyment from doing work that you love for a cause you are passionate about
- Your mind needs proper training just like your body. Just like we work hard with physical fitness either playing our favourite team sports, or in the gym with a personal trainer, or some support from the YouTube fitness coaches, our mind specifically needs mental fitness training. Brain fuelling foods such as fatty fish, broccoli, dark chocolate and blueberries help keep your mind in tip top shape. Ensure a healthy sleep routine, avoidance of too much screen time (TV, phone, PC etc), and considering activities that strengthen your brain such as being outdoors, brain training puzzles like Sudoku and chess!
- It is good to talk. If you are unsure or struggling with something in your personal life or at work such as low self-esteem, anxiety, feeling low or unmotivated, do not be shy about it. Do not suffer in silence or be embarrassed. It is so common and even the most successful people go through low points needing a helping hand. Talk to those that care about you; family, close friends, or even try a confidential helpline of experts at great charities such as Mind.
If you are not yet familiar with Daryl, then you are invited to reach out, connect or discover more about him with his mental health awareness campaigning, alongside mental fitness & productivity improvement hacks through his website and social media channels.
His 14-day YouTube ‘Coronavirus Survival Hacks Series’ is worth a watch which had over 60,000 views in the first few weeks of lockdown restrictions.