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Career Stress

Hectic schedule getting you down? It's time to be selfish. It's good for you, trust me


By Dom Burch, managing director

March 23, 2016 | 7 min read

A good friend of mine Ben Denison once told me you should always write your blog for you and you alone.

"Imagine that no one else is ever going to read it. Do it solely for your own pleasure, and like magic others will almost certainly enjoy it too."

Wise words.

It's very easy to go through life trying to endlessly please others. Particularly in a world surrounded by public displays of superficial endorsement.

How many likes have I had today on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? How many people have shared this blog, or connected with me on LinkedIn?

But when you stop and think about it what do you do each day just for you?

Not for your wife or girlfriend, or kids, or boss, or employees or clients. For you.

Take a moment. Allow yourself to be selfish just for a second or two.

What do you purposefully do each day that gives you a warm glow inside, a sense of achievement?

I write this blog amongst other things. I find it clears my head and allows me time to reflect. It helps two hours pass by effortlessly. And at the end of it I'm left with a sense of pride. Something I've created. Something I can pop on the shelf and look back on in the future.

It would be very easy to assume I write for The Drum because of the profile it gives me, which is undeniably true. It's a consequence of posting it on Europe's most popular marketing website I guess.

But I was writing this (almost) daily thought of the day for years before my chums at The Drum offered to host it for me.

I also get to play at being a radio presenter every other Friday.

You could easily misinterpret the reason I volunteer at BCB 106.6 FM as a regular drivetime presenter is out of the goodness of my heart, to give something back to the community I live in.

Although that is a fortunate side effect of helping fill two hours of live radio, it's not the driving force behind why I do it.

I remember talking to someone in Asda's HR team a few weeks after returning from my six months career break, during which I'd become involved at BCB.

My wife Becky had just pointed out that taking a half day off every other Friday to present on the radio meant I was actually giving up half of my 26 days of holiday entitlement. Time usually reserved for family stuff.

It was a fair point.

I decided to reframe why I was doing it.

The truth is I chose to do it as it was good for my state of mind. It enabled me to maintain good mental health.

I realised it forced me to live in the moment for two hours every other week.

To be in that place that skydivers crave, or surfers yearn, or skiers experience on the slopes.

Or perhaps how other writers feel when they are on a roll, words effortlessly springing onto the page. Seemingly appearing from nowhere. But appearing nonetheless, one after another.

The point is legitimising doing stuff for no other reason than it being good for your mental wellbeing is sometimes hard to do.

Feelings of guilt surface to the top. What if my colleagues think I'm skiving off while they are busting a gut back at the ranch?

I experienced those feelings regularly when I first started leaving the office every other Friday at 2.30pm instead of 5pm.

I needed to get myself to BCB's studios in Bradford for just after 3pm. Drive is live from 4pm - 6pm.

Like most community broadcasters BCB operates with a very small, albeit extremely dedicated team of paid-for staff, and a large, dedicated group of 200 or so volunteers.

Scheduling of guests for live talk-based programmes is fitted around being on the front desk, welcoming guests, making cups of tea and answering the phone.

Pulling together a music playlist is left to me and my co-presenter Lorna. As is grabbing the weather and keeping an eye on traffic and travel. There's no team of producers or researchers, no AA travel expert to call up, and no weathermen or women to do the forecast after the news.

But it's also half of the fun. It's what keeps you on your toes. Keeps you in the moment. And helps deliver a two-hour gentle buzz that leaves you feeling refreshed, energised and on top of the world.

Occasionally 'our listener', as Terry Wogan used to say, even gets in touch, adding a little icing to the cake.

Because if I'm absolutely honest, like writing a good blog post, I don't do it for them, I do it for me.

Does that make me heartless? Am I using others' generosity for my own personal gain? Am I being selfish?

That's for you to judge I guess.

But I'd argue I pay my dues in other ways. I pay it forward by giving back wherever and whenever I can.

I was recently appointed chair of BCB's management committee. In fact I chaired my first meeting on Monday night.

My job over the months ahead is to lead the organisation in a way that ensures it is financially sustainable. So the next wannabe DJ going through a midlife wobble has the opportunity to do what I did.

BCB has given me a huge amount of self worth in the last five years.

It has helped me manage my stress levels.

It has introduced me to people I'd not normally have come into contact with, making new friends along the way. It has forced me to challenge my own preconceptions. It has put me out of my comfort zone.

And it has enabled me to be a better version of me at Asda for the rest of the working week.

Give yourself a break, be concerned chiefly with your own personal pleasure once in a while.

It's far more selfless than it is selfish I assure you.

Follow Dom on Twitter @domburch

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