We are all striving for a comfortable and stress-free lifestyle. The irony is when you get there it really is not as good as it’s cracked up to be.
Why? Well if you have not experienced it let me explained why with two words.
This is exactly what happened to me a few years ago, and in hindsight, I know exactly why. I have even seen this with fellow ex-pats living in Malaysia who have semi-retired, only to find they are desperate to jump into something new.
Why is this? This is what this post is going to explain how I felt being in this position a few years ago, and importantly what I did to get back to feeling productive and excited in life again.
Why being too comfortable can be a bad thing
When I sold my share in a successful online business I had a few quid in the bank and thought yes I had made it, time to have some time off, and relax for a while.
I was living as an ex-pat in Malaysia with my family and wanted to enjoy semi-retirement for 6-months to take stock of my life and think about what I wanted to do next.
Malaysia is a great place to be an ex-pat and in my opinion, the most cost-effective place to live in South-east Asia with a family. Another favourite is Thailand but when comparing Malaysia versus Thailand still comes out top.
With enough money to last many years in Malaysia living an amazing lifestyle at a luxury resort it felt like I had “made it”, whatever that really means.
I spent my days sunbathing by the pool, enjoying the jacuzzi, drinking lots of coffee, reading novels, cinema, massages, shopping (and boy do I enjoy shopping), binge-watching Netflix, meeting with friends, and picking up my kids from school.
Every day for many months was a combination of the above. Often on a whim of how I was feeling each day.
The only time constraints were pick up times for the kids, but essentially I had most of the day to myself.
This may sound incredibly appealing and believe me it is. I was very used to adopting the stay at home semi-retired dad.
In fact, when I meet other expats who were 20 plus years older than me asking what I did, I used to say I was semi-retired. Although some friends adapted this saying I was semi-retarded – harsh and not too politically correct I thought!
This sounds amazing and please don’t get me wrong I REALLY enjoyed it for around 6-months and then I began to feel restless, and well bored.
I was too comfortable with absolutely zero challenges other than being a parent to two active young kids.
Surprising mental and Physical changes
Within 6-months I started to notice some surprising changes both physically and mentally.
So I am not in peak physical condition and haven’t been since I used to compete in Triathlons and overtrained resulting in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A condition that I don’t recommend and with lots of rest can reduce the chance of years and years of fatigue and feel depressed.
I was slowly putting on weight after moving to Malaysia as I found my activity level dramatically reduced. It’s super-hot and humid here and so you tend to walk around outside less.
When you have no work though, it’s easy to find yourself in the many coffee shops enjoying a fancy and overpriced coffee often accompanied by a cake.
Within 18-months I had put on over 6 kilograms (almost one stone) and I truly looked and felt awful.
With no immediate financial pressure or time pressure to do anything, what do you first do?
Your initial desire is to relax and do all the things you love to do it. The novelty soon wears off though.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, once you have satisfied your primary physiological and safety needs, your sense of love and belonging, you naturally then strive for recognition and desire to be the best you can be.
When you’re sat around most of the day directionless in a circle of consumption it’s very difficult to feel fulfilled and that you’re operating at your best. At least this is how I felt.
It makes perfect sense really.
The lack of ambition, of drive, feeling hunger (metaphorically as a boy I was eating lots so not physically!), and declining motivation got to the point where I REALLY want to get back working on and within a business again.
Another surprising quirk I found is with no boss, no business or work, little or no financial concerns, you lack the usual stress of daily life.
So, what happens?
I found that the smallest things start to trigger mild bouts of stress. I know I became less tolerant and as a consequence what would be considered a mild annoyance would actually seem more a big deal.
The simple fact is, you need some stress to thrive and grow. I wasn’t getting any other than my kids winding me up sometimes (well often!).
From comfort to challenging
I needed and really wanted to turnaround my daily lifestyle to grow and thrive instead of being stagnant and unmotivated.
This was one of the main driving forces behind setting up LifeHacker Guy.
I wanted a focus, something I knew needed improving, such as my writing. But more than this, to do something I knew would make me a little uncomfortable. Writing about myself, publicly for anyone to see.
I like to tell stories and usually, this is in the comfort of a small circle of friends or people I know a little. In this respect, I say I am more of an ambivert as opposed to extrovert or introvert (few people have heard of this term, so I recommend checking out my post).
Dedicating time each week to writing two or three blog posts meant I was holding myself accountable personally and publicly. Friends, family, and strangers knew I was updating my blog several times a week.
Renewed focus and getting productive
Writing my blog gave me a laser focus and kept being productive each week. I felt inspired and starting to be more creative.
I looked at what I wanted to improve in my life; my health, business, relationships, finance, and productivity.
Within a few months, I found an idea for new business whilst searching for a daily greens powder supplement to improve my health and fill in the nutritional gaps in my diet.
This kick-started my SuperGreen TONIK brand that was launched after 8-months of constant work. I still drink this every day as part of my daily routine.
I also started a 90-day fat belly challenge to shift the fat from overindulging in too much food – I lost 4.5 kilograms. Although a little short of my intended 6 kilograms I have avoided the typical yo-yo weight gain and managed to keep my weight off now 4-months later.
Sleep is also given more attention to now too, having researched the significance of sleep deprivation on health, learning, and productivity. I stumbled across a super cool sleep tracking ring called the Oura Ring (check out my review), which monitors your sleep and makes recommendations the next day based on your previous night’s sleep.
The biggest other change last year was quitting drinking alcohol in August 2019. Strange for a British guy I know, but now I enjoy being completely hangover-free without the next-day regret of feeling like crap.
Never get too comfortable
This is now going to be one of my main mantras in life – NEVER GET TOO COMFORTABLE!
Life should be challenging, this is ultimately how we adapt, improve, and grow as human beings. This is why the survival of the satisfied is not a well-known saying but “survival of the fittest” is.
To stay fit you need to continually chip away at something that is challenging.
So, fast forward 18 months since I started my blog and I am feeling much more motivated and productive most days.
I still get to watch a bit of Netflix, relax in coffee shops with friends, even a bit of sunbathing by the jacuzzi pool, but it’s less than I used to.
Instead, I enjoy focusing on my business of growing my supplement brand, learning new skills both on and offline, and enjoy those odd days of freedom doing nothing thanks to working online.
I spend most of my time now at the tip of Maslow’s pyramid, the “self-actualization” stage, and absolutely loving it!
What motivates you? Do you enjoy each day and feel productive? Let me know if you have experienced a similar situation and what you did to push through it in the comments below.