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Play Now, Pay Later

June 09, 2018

I think it’s time we acknowledged the fact that fatigue is an epidemic in our societies today, regardless of where in the world one is in. People seem to be having too much to do and very little time to do it. As a result, we have more people suffering from never ending tiredness than ever before. You must have heard (if not experienced it yourself) one or two people you know saying that they went to bed but woke up more tired than they were when they went to sleep. There are many reasons why this happens, but the most common ones are having disturbed sleep where your sleep cycle keeps being disrupted every couple of hours, or going to bed minutes after having a heavy meal. 


I mean, how do you eat a mountain of ugali, a whole tilapia, a “bush” of matembere, washed down with 3 glasses of mtindi and expect to sleep well that night? Your brain will be so busy sending instructions to your digestive system to facilitate the process of digestion that it will not have time to recover from the long day you might have had, so instead, it continues to work hard to digest the heavy load you dumped in your stomach just before going to bed. 


There is a reason why they say, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”. The reason why you need a heavy breakfast and a substantial lunch is because you need more energy during the day than you do at night. Unless you are on the night-shift, having a heavy meal at night then going to sleep less than three hours later will cause you to wake up more tired than when you went to bed, and especially if you keep doing this often on week-nights [Monday to Friday]. Try having light meals in the evening, and make sure you have them at least 3 hours to your bedtime and you’ll see the difference this will bring to the quality of your sleep.


Like I already said, food is not the only reason why people wake up more tired than when they went to sleep. I just chose to elaborate more about the side effects of a food-laden stomach just before going to bed because this is something each one of us can control. There are other reasons why fatigue happens, some of which may require the attention of a specialist while others can easily be managed by the affected individuals. If you are one of those people suffering from this plague of waking up more tired than when you went to sleep, before rushing to hospital to seek medical help, try doing a self-study to establish whether you have patterns that are affecting your sleep or not.


Today however, I want to address the cumulative habits and actions that lead to fatigue. To do this, allow me to share with you a story about The Water Hyacinth. Source: Success for Teens, by the editors of the Success Foundation


The water hyacinth is one of the most beautiful and unusual plants on earth. A delicate flower with six petals, it ranges in color from  blue to lavender to pink and floats on the surface of ponds in warm areas around the world.

What makes the water hyacinth really special is that it is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. A single water hyacinth can produce as many as 5,000 seeds and sends out short stems that become new plants. Over time, a single water hyacinth continuously doubles itself - one plant becomes two plants, two plants become four plants, four plants become eight plants, and so on.


One day there was a very beautiful (and very small) water hyacinth growing near the edge of a big pond. Nobody ever noticed it. Nobody noticed the second day either, when it had doubled and there were now two plants. Nobody noticed the water hyacinth on the third day or the fourth day. Even though they kept doubling in numbers, the water hyacinths were so small on the big pond that you’d have to look very hard to see them.


For two weeks the water hyacinths continued to double, but still covered only one square foot of the pond, just a tiny part of its huge surface. On day 20, a person passing by the pond noticed something floating along the shore, but mistook it for a lost towel or a discarded trash bag. But by day 30, it was impossible to ignore the hyacinths, because a blanket of beautiful flowers now covered the pond’s entire surface.


The lesson of the water hyacinth is this: Small actions may not seem like much at first, but over time they have a compounding effectAll that means is that actions add up or intensify over time - you can get big results from small, daily steps


The water hyacinth in our lives are our choices. We make choices every hour of every day. The impact of these choices will spread throughout our lives like a blanket of water hyacinths covering a pond. We may not see or realize the results of our choices today, tomorrow, or even next year. However, the results of our actions become apparent by the fabric of our life that has been woven over the years.


And it becomes very evident when fatigue and other lifestyle diseases eventually hits you.


Friends the main reason why people are so tired today is because they don’t do proper prioritization, or better put, they don’t apply good time-management skills. By the time you are an adult, you already know what to do with your time but very few people actually apply what they know.


For instance, you are an employee and you know that at the end of every month you are supposed to submit a certain report to your immediate manager. So on the 31stmorning, you start compiling the report and end up spending the whole day glued to your laptop or computer, with very little time for personal breaks and at some point you might even be forced to skip mid-morning tea, lunch and mid-afternoon tea. By the time you get home, it would probably be at around 10:30pm in the night and you would be so hungry and tired that you don’t even want to talk to anyone in the house. Then you go pack yourself with a lot of food since you are hungry, and because you are tired, you find yourself falling asleep almost immediately. 


Then guess what happens after you pack yourself with too much food before you go to sleep, your brain sends signals to your intestines that there is a load that needs to be processed and so work begins. At around 12;30am, you are woken up by your body because it needs to use the bathroom. Of course at this time you are so groggy with sleep but since you know unless you go to the toilet you might end up regretting why you didn’t, you have no choice but to go.


By the time you go back to bed again, your sleep cycle has been completely interrupted and so you have to start the whole process of sleeping again. So instead of having at least 5 hours of sleep, you end up having only two and a half hours of sleep because you have to be up again at 5pm to get ready to go to work. So you get to work and start another marathon because while you were busy working on your monthly report the previous day, 200 emails came in and you didn’t respond to any. Amongst those emails you realize there are some that are so serious that unless sorted out immediately, you could very easily be out of a job. And the previous day’s cycle continues where you get home tired, you pack yourself with food, fall asleep, wake up 2 hours later to use the toilet, then go back to sleep for 2½ hours before you get up again.


Imagine what will happen to you if you keep up with this routine for 6 months. If you were once a man with a 6-pack, one morning you wake up and realize you have a nicely rounded one-pack. If you are a woman who was once “portable”, you wake up one morning and realize you can’t quite begin to tell where your chest begins or ends, or where your stomach starts and ends. And how did all this start? By not applying time-management skills.


Using the example of the report, you could have done your report in piecemeal, at the end of every week so that come the last day of the month, you would only have that last week to work on. This applies to every area of our lives and not just in the work space. The time you spend with or away from your loved ones will have an impact to the quality of relationships you have with them. The time you spend (or not) working on your personal development will have an impact to your progress (or not). The time you spend working out vs the number of burgers you take in every week will determine how many “packs” you will have in the long run.


Every little action in your life triggers another reaction somewhere in your life. You might not quite see the reaction right away, but one day you will look back and wonder how you got where you are today. I hope when the time comes you will not be regretting at that time.


That is why this week in the ongoing #52BooksIn52Weeks2018 Book Reading Challenge I am recommending one of my favorite books, “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Oslon. This is one of the most amazing books I have read in a long time. It contains some of the most simple but highly effective lessons that, if followed, will surely lead anyone to success.


The slight edge concept can be applied to any aspect of your life: losing weight, getting healthy, starting a business, learning to play the guitar, saving for retirement, your daily activities at the office, your performance in class, etc. I can tell you for a fact that the concept sounds so easy, because all it requires is for you to make the right choices day after day.


But here’s the thing, if it’s so easy, why are we not all successful at the things we pursue? I think it’s because, while it sounds easy to do, it is also easy not to do. It’s easy to think that the burger you order for lunch isn’t going to make a huge impact on your life. But when you order that burger again and again over the weeks and months of our lives, it makes a difference. What about that yummy tasting doughnut on Sunday mornings? It makes a difference. That workout you chose to do instead of sleeping in? It makes a difference.


Like I already said, every action we take has an equal reaction somewhere else in our lives. We must remember and understand that little steps have the power to make a huge difference to our lives.


So, as we move towards the second half of the year, what slight edge actions are you willing to take in order to make this year the best year yet? The choices are entirely in your hands.


Be Ignited. Be Inspired. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself your can ever be.


PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 10th of June, 2018, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".




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