5 Things I learned as a person during lockdown

The final of our three-part what I learned during the lockdown series as we move into the winter of 2020 and maybe entering Lockdown two electric boogaloo. This will make for easy content as I can just rinse and repeat this again for another 3 articles of the 15 things I learned during the dark wintery lockdown of 2020 (jokes hopefully).  A lot of the things I wrote about from the perspective of a lifter or as a business owner cover a lot of the takeaways from lockdown as a person.  I have tried to make the next five points more personal and less related to the realm of running this business or being a lifter in this business.  

1 – Structure and routine are way more important than I ever probably realised

Even when I went into more of a take the days as they come and being generally a lot lazier I still had a routine.  While beforehand my routine before the coronavirus was something like 

  • Get up at 5:35 am
  • Dress and get breakfast 
  • Take the dog out 
  • Get to work for 6:30am 
  • Coach till 9am 
  • Train from 9am to 11am etc.  

My routine shifted towards

  • Get up at 8-9 am
  • Get coffee and food
  • Go for a 3000-5000 step walk
  • Train 9-12
  • Sit at a computer pretending to work (maybe even work) etc.

Even though I was spending my days in the same building with the same people I still had my day to day rhythm.  I had my week punctuated with poker with the lads from Limavady on a Friday night, Zoom with my family on a Saturday, Longdog walks with Laura after dinner, Warzone with whoever wanted to play from 8 pm till bedtime.  Even when I wasn’t really putting pressure on myself to put my best foot forward and to try and produce as much work or content as I could I still lead a pretty structured existence.

I think this is something I have just developed from life as an adult. There wasn’t a moment in my life pre-2017 before going self-employed full time where I didn’t have at least 2 main endeavours and training to fit into my life.  During university, I had a job the entire time and when I entered the workforce I had at least 1.5 jobs and then a full-time job and a business to run.  So I am used to filling my day with stuff and I guess that’s what I did when I didn’t have much to do other than try and look after the bits of my business I could and not turn into a headcase or an alcoholic.

I think what you can maybe take from this if you are someone who is maybe struggling to get into a rhythm with life, maybe you’re down on your luck/unemployed or maybe you are grappling with mental health issues, or maybe all of the above is you could maybe set up a schedule.

This is pretty common advice I am sure but it’s probably common for a reason.  Even if you are just scheduling being a waster, being a waster with a schedule to keep is probably going to be a step in the right direction.  

2 – Having your own space is something you take for granted as an adult

I come from a 7 person household. We lived in a 3 bedroom house so needless to say I am used to having people in my living space.  Ever since moving to University, I have become accustomed to having my own space where I can retreat to.  Even when I was a poor university student I at the very least had my own room.  As an adult with a job I have lived with at most one other adult and have spent a few stints on my own and to be honest, that’s the way I like to exist.  Coaching by its very nature is a pretty social Job I see lots of people in a day and I love hanging out, talking to, and interacting with people, it’s one of the main reasons I love my job so much.

However, working with people all day does wain on you and I love nothing more than coming home and switching off from social interaction.  I’ve always enjoyed my own company and feel that I need some time away from others and their opinions to be able to switch off properly.  During the lockdown as I have mentioned in this blog series on a few occasions, I was staying with Laura’s gracious parents who allowed me to stay in their house and even erect my own home gym.  Laura’s family home is a generous size with a good garden but even though I had my own room and space I still felt like I was constantly intruding in other people’s space.

Luckily I had my own room which I had my work station and PlayStation 4 which were pretty useful during the lockdown, to say the least.  I also made daily use of walks on my own and training on my own to get my own space with headphones where I was alone with my own thoughts and free of the interruptions with others.  I can imagine this is pretty quaint for parents who are probably lucky to get 10 minutes to themselves a day.  But it’s something we maybe take for granted in our day-to-day lives, something I definitely took for granted.  I’m going to make sure I make time for myself every day and will protect it because I obviously need it. 

3 – It’s too easy to be nasty try and be kind

I am a very opinionated person, I read a lot and take in a lot of information on a daily basis, have a pretty decent knowledge base when it comes to a few areas.  I was very outspoken when I was younger (still am, to be honest, but not to the same level of brazen opinion as I used to have).  This combined with a deep-seated like of pissing and moaning can make me very quick to criticise and judge.  It is very true what they say it’s easy to Monday morning quarterback and hindsight is 20/20.

One of my favorite books from the last couple of years is Nassim Taleb’s skin in the game if you haven’t come across it or read it then I think it’s really worth putting it on your to-read pile, I would personally bump it up that pile close to the top.  Basically, the crux of the book is that it is almost impossible for someone who doesn’t suffer the consequences of their actions to accurately weigh up the risk/benefit ratios.  If you are making a decision where there are no real consequences to you making that decision then you won’t properly weigh up the outcomes or risks when making that decision.

Now how this relates to the point is that it’s very easy to shoot ideas down or to criticize the actions or anything else when it comes to other people.  However, you don’t have all the information hell you might not have any of the information.  Someone might do something you dislike on social media or they might be taking part in a hobby and posting it on social media.  They might be doing something wrong or in your opinion, they might be making an idiot out of themselves.  You might decide to criticise that person either in private, in a group chat, you might slide up in their DMs with an opinion or with some shade, or even better yet you might get on a video or publicly put them on blast with either your Instagram or Facebook account.

Now unknown to you that person could be going through an incredibly tough time maybe they are struggling to get over depression and this is them putting their best foot forward, maybe someone close to them died and they loved doing this hobby and they decided to give it a go in their memory.  The long story short is that when you meet someone or you interact with people there are depths of story and going ons that you have absolutely no knowledge of.  So rather than adding to their burden or kicking someone when they are potentially down maybe just keep that thought in your head and keep it there and see if you still feel the same in a few hours or in a day.

It feels good to make fun of others or to criticize others because it’s a direct comparison you are making, you are virtue signaling in a way you are calling ill-repute on them or their actions, you are making yourself look or feel superior to them.  Either to get a dopamine hit or to try and move yourself up some social hierarchy.  However, these are fleeting and ultimately meaningless short term feel-good moments for you in exchange for what might be a real point of anxiety or pain for someone else.

This is something I decided to try and actively do a few years ago however it is something that through my own experiences and interactions with others during the lockdown period which was a real trial for other’s mental health has been cemented in my head. 

4 – We underestimate the positive effect those around us have

As previously discussed I would probably consider myself somewhat of a loner at heart but I do enjoy the company of others (pretty hard to be a coach or to run a gym if you don’t like people!) and whilst I did feel like I was a bit on top of Laura’s parents and in their space the positives of having some other people around during the lockdown more than out weighed the negatives.  Having other people around to talk to, to shoot the shit for and to do dumb shit like cook for really does have a huge effect on your mental health and abilty to cope with whatever life throws at you.

I get to shoot the shit with lots of different people on a daily basis being able to have conversations with people on a variety of topics makes the job pretty much infinitely interesting never two days or conversations the same.  I think for a lot of people their hobbies and jobs serve much the same purpose and having the ability to do these things stripped from us did have an effect on pretty much everyone I think.

We (I certainly didn’t) probably don’t fully appreciate the positive effect of having other people around us every day. Not only other people who share our motivations and ideas but also those who hold other opinions and motivations.  We have ideas and opinions if left unchecked or on their own can grow in useless and foundless directions, by discussing ideas and opinions with others we can help to add some nuisance and reality to them it helps us to develop them further and to help develop ourselves further.

We take inspiration and feed off the energy of others especially when it comes to a work or training setting you might be having a shit day or feeling a bit shit in your warm-ups but when you see one of your friends flying it can help you to raise your game or if you see one of your friends having a shit time it allows you to relate, to feel some comradery and to make light of the situation.   

In short, I don’t think we can overestimate the positive effects of being around others be they like-minded or not have on our quality of life and our ability to thrive and not just survive. 

5 – Don’t be shy about taking time for yourself and doing what you want.

Probably the biggest impact on myself during the lockdown and further through the pandemic has been its effect on both my training and on my business. Both of which I have talked about at length during this blog series.  However, what it has also shown to me is that I prioritise these two things probably at the expense of my private life and my own free time.  I do take holidays and time off but probably way less than I should.  Even when I worked for other people I would end up with a lot of holidays at the end of the year I had to take or I would be the sucker left behind during the break month looking after injured players and kicking about doing thankless shit. While everyone else did the right thing and fucked off on Holiday and took their free time with both hands.

In the future, I am going to make sure I have time to do what I want and to be away from work and training.  I love my work and I love my training but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t working or training.  All work and no play make Marc something something.

You can’t really underestimate the amount that people don’t actually care that you are running yourself down or burning the candle at both ends (they aren’t you so while they might care about you, you aren’t their only concern and for most people, you will be pretty far down the concern list) and you can’t really overestimate the cumulative effect not taking enough time to recover and pursue other interests, to connect with other people and experience other things outside of your work or primary hobby can have on your motivation, productivity and longevity.

There are periods in life when if you want to achieve something or you want to do something you need to knuckle down and eat shit for some time.  Those periods aren’t indefinite and it isn’t the default thing.  Working two jobs or working a full-time job and running a business on the side of that full-time job (which was incredibly full-on to start with) meant my default working week was anywhere from 55-70+ hours per week every week if I wasn’t on holiday for the guts of a decade.  That isn’t a stat you should admire a smarter person would do the same amount of work or probably more work by outsourcing or being more productive.

There is a hustle subculture within people who aspire to succeed in their workplace or who strive to make it in business.  It’s a culture that Garry Veynerchuck provides the perfect avatar for and that culture fucking sucks.

You can work 16 hours days if you want and vlog when you are having a meal or getting a hair cut but I think you can shove that lifestyle up your arse.  Hard work is a virtue for sure but it’s not something to be turned into productivity porn or something you should idolise.  It’s a necessary step to achieve anything in life, it’s a step we should acknowledge and take if we want to do or achieve something.  It’s not something we should aspire to do for our whole lives.  Trust me when the axeman comes wielding the blade if your head is on the block the extra miles you went for the employer will count for nothing. They will swing that axe with the same vigour as they would for someone who took all the benefits and spare time that was offered to them.

Don’t be a martyr, don’t be a fucking idiot, take time for yourself and don’t be ashamed of it.


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