Perhaps, if you’re like most people, you often hear things like “you gotta hustle and grind” if you want to be successful.
On the other hand, you might have heard people talking about the concept of life balance, the idea of ideal fulfillment, or the search for eternal happiness.
The truth is, nothing is permanent. Life ebbs and flows.
There are good days and bad, empowering moments and difficult moments, times to hustle, and times to recover.
If you live life with your foot on the gas pedal full time, you will at some point blow the engine, and that will express itself as burnout, depression, sickness, injury, or relationship issues. All of these things are symptoms of too much, too often, with no recuperation.
No matter if it’s about how you work, how you workout, or how you socialize, it’s important for you to create an approach that actually allows you to achieve and recover.
A conceptual model for this approach I’ve titled “The Green, Yellow, Red Zone Strategy”.
You can think of the Red Zone as going over the top, overreaching, going beyond your means, taking on more than you believe you can handle or feels right.
Fundamentally, without overreaching, you just won’t grow.
This is a fact of the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological spheres of our lives. Over-reaching stimulates or demands adaptation, your body, your brain, your physiology respond to increased stress, whatever that stress may be, by accommodating to it, building more capacity to handle that stress so that the next time you encounter such intensity you are ready and no longer challenged by that same level of stress.
This is how we grow and get better at anything.
Want to learn how to ride a bike?
You have to lose your balance, wobble, fall a few times, catch yourself, all in an effort to accommodate and adapt. Slowly but surely your body recognizes when to zig when to zag, and voila, you are riding a bike.
But, that then becomes pretty easy, so if you want to take it to another level, be able to handle, say some single-track mountain biking, well you need to try that now, and start all over with the wobbling, stepping off, crashing, or going completely ass over tea kettle!
You want to run a business, make it successful?
Red zone work means long days, big days of work, trying things, making mistakes, trying risky approaches, maybe even doing things people say you shouldn’t do, just because you have this “feeling”. In short, no red zone, no learning, no overreaching, no business. You will not succeed.
But here’s where the shift in consciousness has to occur. There are two other zones you need to recognize and live in from time to time so that all that accommodation and adaptation can take place.
If you ride that mountain bike and you don’t pause to let your body absorb what it’s just learned, for a minute, for an hour, for a day, maybe even for several weeks, if you just keep trying and trying and trying, your body will either break, or you will cease to absorb the stimulus.
You won’t get better, you might even get worse!
Maybe you run a trail a little less difficult, one you are familiar with, or one you can manage well to negotiate, and in so doing your body starts to incorporate the adaptations. You start to manoeuver over and through things with just a little more confidence, you feel a sense of accomplishment and your body starts to go from that sympathetic flight or fight response you feel whenever you are on the edge, to a state of greater calm, one where you feel like you have to be on your game, but not on TOP of your game!
This is Yellow Zone work. It’s still challenging, it still requires focus and intentional connection, but it isn’t requiring absolute and complete commitment every moment. This is the sweet spot of adaptation and regulation. The zone where you get to show off a bit, demonstrate that you know what you are doing, and do it really well. Gain confidence in your ability, demonstrate an ability to be in the game!
You need to effectively allow yourself to live in this zone more frequently than you do. Seemingly these days, you are either all on, in the red zone almost constantly, or you are in the green zone trying to recover but doing a crappy job of it because you are too tired to actually engage in the green zone work.
Yes, I said it, green zone work.
Green Zone is the real recovery zone. Where you give yourself permission to just absorb life, tune in to yourself, be alone, sleep, read a book just for the pure escape of it, go for a walk, and think about……..nothing!
If you’re like most you likely pay limited mind to really resting. You are in the red zone all day, then you hit a self-imposed zone I call the brown zone. That’s the exhaustion zone. That’s the zone where we stare at the TV for an hour and forget what we watched.
That’s the zone where you sit beside your loved one and pretend you are spending time together.
That’s the zone where you eat a pizza and chase it with a bowl of double fudge chocolate ice cream.
That’s the zone where you drink five glasses of wine and only realize when the bottle is empty!
That’s the zone where your head hits the pillow with deep exhaustion, but seconds later won’t let you sleep because your brain won’t stop thinking shitty thoughts!
The Brown Zone is the shit zone and it’s not something we create, it’s something we accept.
Brown zone is like drinking brown water, it isn’t very healthy!
Red zone, brown zone, red zone, brown zone, and thus the days flow on and on until we hit a wall.
Loss of a loved one!
Kids that misbehave!
Lose all your money!
And the list goes on.
How do you build a Red, Yellow, Green Zone life?
Consciously and consistently understanding what each one looks like, learning what they feel like, living in each one intentionally.
The first thing you need to do is evaluate each day, consider what you do each day, apply a form of intensity monitor on each thing you do, recognize the redness of your actions.
Start learning what is truly green for you, intentionally engage in green lifestyle choices. Naps, meditation, reading, deep conversations, walks with no distraction, nutrition with impact. Begin to learn about these things.
In the coming weeks, I will be writing more about the red, yellow, and green zone lifestyle, and how to do it right. Come back and visit, and we will grow together.
No more running in the red, and flopping into the brown.
Live life with intention, live it in the red, live it in the yellow and live it in the green!
Want to re-invent your life, or perhaps experience your life journey through a guided process?
The next cohort of our amazing LYM Life Lab begins in May
Here’s a FREE Kickstarter to help you out, and let you see some of what we’ll be doing.
We would love to have you with us.