Prioritizing Health Over Career

I first went to a gym in class 12th, for three days. And then, I quit.

After many false starts, in 2009, I finally nailed the habit. For the last 12 years, I have been working out regularly despite the occasional ups and downs of life.

Here is what changed.

Until 2009, I had totally sacrificed my life for work. My health was in shambles, and even though my career was doing well, I hated how I was ruining my body.

So when I left McKinsey in 2009, I promised myself – if I had to choose between my health and my job, I would sacrifice the latter. That clarity changed everything.

This time when I started working out, I persevered beyond the 6-month mark. At that point, the uphill journey was over – now, it was all downhill. I started loving it.

Building good habits is often hard because the pain is instant while the gratification is delayed. It is like climbing a mountain – we often quit during the uphill part.

If you are a runner, you know the euphoria you feel after the 5k or 10k mark. But that comes AFTER the run. When you get started, it is all pain – pure and intense.

But fortunately, when you have run enough times, your brain recreates the pleasure even when all your body feels is the pain. That is why I love running though I find it as painful as ever.

There is incredible joy in building good habits, but to experience the downhill, you need to first push through the uphill.

To experience most good things, you have to outlast the pain. But if you make up your mind, no pain can outlast you.

– Rajan


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