Graduating from one of the premier business schools in the United States, I had a vision. A vision that involved becoming the next Rockefeller. I got a job in a great firm with an enticing pay package. The future was crystal-clear to me. I’d invest my hard earned cash in stock. When I got the required capital, I would start my own business. I was on Cloud 9! What I didn’t realize was that my life at that moment was simply the proverbial ‘calm before the storm’.In my first year of work as an Assistant Project Manager, I realized that I’d literally signed away 5 days of my week wholesale in my 3-year contract! My life moved from weekends to weekends. I gained a good knowledge of the stock market. I befriended some of the brokers working in the opposite skyscraper. My net worth was constantly on the rise. That was the only thing that kept me going. And what I lost in the process was something I wasn’t even aware of. I had no time to work out. I was living on processed foods. 5 cups of coffee a day and about 20 cigarettes a day. Whiskey, every night, just to get a good night’s sleep. My lifestyle was a shortcut to hell, paved in the zeal to create a heaven.
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Two years passed by. By now, I’d started to feel the stress involved in this whole corporate world. I almost doubled my cigarette and alcohol consumption. This helped me to cope with the increasing stress of being promoted to Project Manager. I just needed to work another year to fulfil the contract. At least that’s what I kept telling myself – though I knew the truth was that another pay raise and promotion was all it would take to get me to sign another contract. But life had other plans.
My workplace stress escalated to the point that I suffered from a heart attack. There were a couple of reasons for it. First and foremost, my lifestyle, which had already affected my cardiac system. But the more immediate trigger perhaps was the collapse of the stock market. I lost almost all the money I’d spent the last three years pushing myself to the brink of collapse to get. And what remained was now getting eaten up by my medical bills. My life was in ruins. I quit my job, thinking that I’d have to start all over again from scratch. There was an extreme necessity for me to change my lifestyle – something I thought would be virtually impossible in the corporate world. In fact, after the attack, I’d decided never to go back.
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But I eventually changed my mind. When I recovered, I built up the confidence to get back. I joined the same firm, at the same post that I’d resigned from. But this time, I swore I’d do things differently. I decided to dedicate an hour to workouts and another hour to meditation and yoga. Before reaching the office I made sure that I ate a healthy breakfast. I stopped eating fast foods, and learned to cook healthy and delicious meals. I quit smoking, and used e-cigarettes instead. I significantly cut down on my alcohol consumption – restricting myself to a can of beer a week.
The meditation and yoga certainly helped a lot. I was working the same number of hours with double the number of clients and employees, but meditating everyday gave me peace of mind. I came to realize that a lot of my stress was a product of my mind. And training my mind to be stress-free was the key to getting rid of my stress. Here are a few ways to go about that, which I learned from my personal experience. Firstly, the elixir is meditation, to keep yourself calm.
Secondly, you need to learn how to make your work fun, before it starts making fun of you. I’ve worked on several projects while listening to music. I just did my best to enjoy my work and my workday. I took a break every hour and went for a stroll. I rewarded myself by watching funny videos frequently during my breaks. And before long, I reaped the rewards of my changing lifestyle. I found the key to a successful corporate life. I now enjoy my job so much that I’m no longer even that concerned about starting my own firm. Though maybe someday, I’ll write a book or even start my own blog about the struggle against workplace stress.
To anyone else who finds themselves battling workplace stress, this is my simple piece of advice – You just need to take control of your work before it starts taking control of you.