Back to Battery- Surviving Partner Work Ethic, cont.

by Bo Fitzpatrick, President, 20-20 Services

Most of us use smart phones. I currently have the iPhone 6S. We use these devices for almost everything from emails, to surfing the web, to weather, to tracking how many steps we’ve taken today. And, we all probably know that when we open an app or a website, they will continue to run in the background, hidden until we may want to call it up again. Well, these items running in the background sap the battery life of the phone, and when away from an outlet we see our little battery icon getting smaller and smaller. One action we can take to conserve the battery is to double-click the home button. This shows all of the apps running in the background and, with a swipe of our thumb on those apps, we can turn off the ones we aren’t using. So ask yourself, “How many “apps” do I have running in my head at any one time during the day that I don’t need to have running”? Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed I will visualize swiping my open apps off (really) – and it works.

Morning Emails

I started morning mediation over ten years ago. I was consumed with work and life when a friend introduced me to meditation, and I have been doing it ever since. I get up around 5 a.m. most days and do my meditation practice. The funny thing though is that not all meditations are created equal. Some mornings, I couldn’t get to that peaceful place. Then I noticed a pattern. If I checked my emails before I began, the quality of the meditation time was poor. By checking my emails first (just in case there was an important email that couldn’t wait at 5 a.m.), I effectively turned on that app in my body, and my mind would want to respond to the client or colleague. Then, while trying to meditate, those emails would be running in the background. So, I stopped checking my phone in the morning until after my meditation, taking the dog out, and getting something to eat. By the way, this typically takes only 45 minutes each morning. It also allows me to be present for my wife (and kids when they were younger) as I begin each day. I learned it was better to give myself time in the morning and to break the habit of checking emails until I was in a good place. By doing this, my battery would last much longer each day and I would smile more.

A quick story. My father was a navy man, a submariner. His first sub was a diesel. Diesel subs relied on battery power for most things, primarily to clean the air so they could keep breathing (a minor necessity). They would be out to sea for months, meaning the batteries would need to be recharged periodically. In order to recharge the battery, they needed fresh air, so they would surface or get to a depth where they could raise a snorkel to bring in the air. The issue – a submarine on or near the surface is a sitting duck. As such, they had to be careful and get this done as quickly as possible. Yet, it was a necessary pause so they could re-charge and continue on their mission. As soon as they had brought in enough air to re-charge the battery the call would go out, “Back to battery, Captain”, followed by, “dive, dive, dive”. They were safe.

So, when do you pause to get “back to battery”? We can’t just go, go, go without paying the price. My previous posts also talked about self-care. It’s the theme to surviving the partners’ work ethic.

Into Action

by Bo Fitzpatrick, CPA

There is not much I look forward to receiving in the mail these days. Lots of junk mail, catalogs (especially this time of year) and bills are really all that come. Back in high school and college, I did look forward to receiving one particular magazine in the mail – Sports Illustrated. Back then we didn’t have all the information at our fingertips like we do today with the ability to search and find on the internet or social media just about anything we want to know. The writers for SI were the best and I was one of the many completely taken by George Plimpton’s April article about the baseball phenom, “Sid Finch” in the mid-80s. Today, I have a new magazine I eagerly await receiving.  It is called, “EXPERIENCE L!FE”, a monthly magazine put out by Life Time Fitness, a national chain of fitness centers. Each issue discusses topics I find interesting and inspiring, reminding me of what is important. And, it comes in the mail.

My last post, Partner Work Ethic – How to Survive It, discussed how hard public accounting professionals work and the toll it takes on the person. I raised the question, “How do we take care of ourselves and not crater because our body and spirit have had enough”? The magazine, EXPERIENCE L!FE, is dedicated to helping all of us stay healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Give it a read.

So, how do we maintain our health while working those insane hours? A short story. A couple years ago, I decided that since I was now into my 50s, I should go get my heart checked out. My blood pressure was a bit high, but otherwise, my heart and arteries were fine. The doctor comes in and says things look good. Of course, you have two risk factors. (What?! My mind screamed…two risk factors!) The first is, you are over 50. (Okay, guess I have to accept that one.) The second is you are overweight. (Again, What!? Sure I have a belly, but I don’t feel overweight.) He went on to say that the chart says at 5’9” I should weigh between 165 – 172lbs and you weigh 186lbs. (PS – I haven’t weighed 165lbs since senior year in high school.) Thank you, doctor. I walked out committed to getting down to one risk factor.

Long story short, I now weigh around 175lbs and my blood pressure is good. More importantly, I feel grounded in my life. Not every day, but most days. So, for those of you that read my previous post, here is what I do to try and ensure I will stay around this earth for a bit longer:

•    Physical capacity – eat properly; limit one cup of coffee per day; exercise at the gym 3 times a week; walk 1.5 miles 5 times a week; drink lots of water; and avoid excesses of any form.

•    Emotional capacity – start most mornings (before looking at emails or anything else) with 30 – 45 minutes of quiet time, including  10 – 15 minutes of meditation; daily inspirational readings; love my family; be positive and happy at work; take time to “smell the roses”.

None of the above is really anything special. It is the “steady wins the race” concept. We all know what we need to do. The irony is, the more time we take to be good to ourselves, the better we will be at our jobs. Of course, it is incredibly hard getting started. But with another busy season right around the corner, maybe start today. Commit. Go for a walk. Right now. Just get up and do it.