Start working 24/7 and be happy!

This is a very personal blog, I hope you appreciate it. 

In 2016 I almost crashed on the highway while driving my Audi TT sports car. That particular morning I already felt weary and dizzy during a meeting, but did not give it much attention at the time. After the meeting, I went for a short walk with a colleague and decided to call my parents if they were able to drive me and my car back home. They said they could, but eventually I decided to drive home myself around noon (stubborn?). As soon as I drove up the highway, It felt like a heavy blanked was pulled over my head and pushed me down… I managed to get off at the next exit – fortunately enough, the route to a hospital. I quickly called my parents from my car at a stop-sign explaining they needed to come a.s.ap. as I thought I was having a brain stroke… I parked my car as quick as I could, managed to get out and shouted to two elderly ladies that I wasn’t doing well… They got me inside the emergency entrance where I was rushed to a bed for further examination. After a series of tests, deposit of blood and pee and even a CT brain-scan a doctor came to me and said: “After all the tests we have done in the past three hours, we see no reason to keep you here…”

Victim of my ambitions 

I was stunned. What was wrong with me? Nothing? How could that be? I clearly felt bad and almost fainted?! My parents arrived at the hospital and drove me home. While driving, my dad and I discussed what could have let up to this event. The day before, I visited my parents with my partner, telling them she was pregnant. The week earlier I sent the final manuscript of my (Dutch) book ‘Gamification als motor van verandering‘ to my publisher for production. We also just released the second version of one of our biggest international projects. So you could say I completed some ‘epic projects’.

I often say, as a joke, that I am the victim or a slave of my own ambitions and this is very true. As soon as I finished my Masters of Brand Management and started BrandNewGame my ambitions were quite high and I find it hard to be pleased… The people I have worked since I founded BrandNewGame in 2009 either have the same high standards, or don’t work with me anymore. I guess my ambitions helped to be able to work for great brands like Vodafone, Foot Locker Europe and Air France KLM, but it is also a burden to drive yourself towards the ambitious goals I have constantly…

Dare to be non-productive : play! 

I guess for a long time I had not been listening to my own motto: ‘work hard, play hard’. I was only working really hard, although it never felt as working… My work is so much fun that I never perceive it as working (except for writing books and blogs ;-). On the other hand I was playing loads of games as well? I guess we need to add another dimension to work hard, play hard, which is: rest hard… If a day has 24 hours of which we need 6 to sleep, 6 to travel and eat, 6 to work… you still have 6 to have fun or ‘do nothing’… For me this was the moment to call a coach I met 6 months earlier. He coached me during my preparations for my TedXTalk about gamification in 2016. The first few meetings with him I cried a lot. Not because I was sad, but because it frustrated me that other people in the world have a – maybe less fortunate life than I am leading – so how unfair is it for me to complaint that I am not ‘happy ‘..?! I learned that all I needed to do was: stand still more often… better yet: stand still every day! He said: “Why don’t you do the Yoga exercises I taught you every morning and evening and give yourself 10 minutes a day to meditate and do nothing…?” This seemed (and appeared) to be the best advice I ever had.

I want, I know, I’m able and I dare!

In my most recent book I came up with a model that unveils the key-processes that determine the effectiveness / impact of your actions. It is the combination of:

I want + know + am able + dare to do what is needed to be done. In this case, I needed to dare to ‘do nothing’ more often… I forgot that as a human being you cannot always be pushing for more and more but need to stand still more often to load your battery. In my country about 1 million people have suffered or are suffering from a burnout… Guess why Yoga is so popular in the past ten years…

So the key message of this very personal blog is to combine being active and passive like yin and yang. If you are active, you can use the power of the combination of want+know+able+dare for 100% power. But you also need to pay attention to: not wanting anything, clearing your mind, doing nothing physically (resting consciously or doing yoga exercises). But I guess I never dared to do that…

Work 24/7

To live a happy life, I advice you to work 24/7 from now on. I mean, work 24 hours a week… This means 6 hours every day, for 4 days in every week… Why is it that a lot of pop-stars (Tim Bergling / Avicii recently) and even very successful business men commit suicide? Because they are the victim of their incredibly large ambitions. Success for them is achieving better, bigger, more epic challenges… But nothing lies after the biggest challenge, except for another bigger challenge you create yourself… It helped us in our evolution to where we are today, but we need to become happy with less ‘more and more’… I challenge you to apply intrinsic happiness and passiveness more often during the day. Define what is ‘success’ for you. Maybe start by working 24/7 from now on so you have time to let the answers come while you meditate and do nothing  😉

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