Episode 300

Your Self-Care Routine Might Suck with Ben Pickard

In this episode, Ben Pickard joins me to talk about why your self-care routine might suck.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend in today’s episode, I’m speaking with my fellow business free and accordance coach, Ben Pickard. And I love this conversation so much. I think you will too. In this conversation, we talk about how impossible it is to be effective in work or in life, if you’re not good at taking care of yourself, how quickly it leads to burnout, and if you’re feeling it already at the start of 2024, this is a great episode for you.

And if you stick around to the end, we’re going to give you the exact tool Ben uses to track his self care habits on a regular basis. So keep on listening, my friend. It’s a great episode to start the year with.

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Kehler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym. [00:01:00] Get ready to unlock your potential and become a real unicorn in the fitness industry.

Let’s begin.

Hello, fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the Business for Unicorns podcast. Today, I’m back again with Ben. How are you, my friend? I’m good. Hi, everybody. Hi. It’s so good to see you. It’s the first, I think it’s the first time you’re on the podcast in 2024. So welcome to the new year.

Thank you. Before we dive in, I just want to do a quick reminder to all of our listeners that we have our Unicorn Society retreat coming up in Austin, Texas. It is on March 2nd and March 3rd. And if you are listening to this podcast before January 14th, you can still get some early bird pricing, which means it’ll never be any cheaper.

We only open up. 10 spots to non unicorn study members to come join us at this retreat. And please let us know if you want to come DM us on Instagram for more information, as a reminder, this retreat is all about marketing and sales. So in this retreat, you’re going to have two whole days [00:02:00] with us. We’re going to learn how to create a steady stream of high quality leads.

You’re gonna learn how to effortlessly convert them into, into members. You’re gonna grow your revenue month over month. We have guest speakers like Jordan Syatt joining us. Anyway, it’s going to be epic. Austin, Texas. March 2nd, March 3rd. DM us on Instagram for more information. Ben, today’s topic is all about self care.

We thought, it’s the beginning of the new year still, people are still getting their shit together for how they want to show up at the new year. I recorded, actually, a moment with Michael podcast At the end of 2023, we talked a little bit about self care. We talked about the four kind of proactive self care strategies, but we wanted to circle back to them on today’s podcast and use Ben as a real life walking, talking example of what’s going on in your self care world.

So before we dive in, just talk a little bit about Ben for you as an entrepreneur. As a dad, as a partner in life, as someone who is a manager and a leader, like what makes this topic of self care really matter to you? [00:03:00] Yeah. Good question. I’m really strongly, I really strongly believe that you can’t serve from an empty cup.

Yeah. And I think we. All like intellectually not same way you nodded when I said that to that, but I don’t know if we emotionally believe it or more importantly, practically act on it because it’s really not that hard to disprove that temporarily you can be burned out and still show up to your kid’s soccer game or do that consultation, but this you go explain it better than me, but like a cumulative effect on that.

So it’s easy to be like, Oh, but I could still do this thing, even if I’m not taking care of myself. It’s not like when self care drops, you crash and burn. You’ve got this gray area that you can play with in between, that can either be used to fry yourself even further and dig a bigger hole, or you can climb up out of and be the leader you want to be.

So to me, Like I own a gym, I help run business for unicorns. I work with other gym owners. There’s a leading by example integrity component, but I also [00:04:00] feel a very strong calling to serve others. And if my life’s a fucking dumpster fire, I’m not gonna be able to serve. So to me, it’s really tied to my purpose.

Yeah, I think it’s really well said my friend. You just can’t serve from an empty cup. And if all you listeners of this podcast, you’re listening to this podcast because you probably have a clear purpose and probably own a gym. You probably want to serve your team. You probably want to serve your clients.

You probably have family members and friends you’re going to be available to, to make an impact in their lives. I think. Ben, that’s a great way of thinking about it. I’m like, I can’t make the impact I want to have and fulfill the purpose I have in my life. If I’m not in a good place, I don’t have my shit together.

Yeah. And I think in my solo podcast that I recorded, we, I talked about Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, who wrote a book, resident leadership. And I talk a lot about it. So if listeners want to learn more, go listen to that podcast. But the nutshell is they talk about this cycle of. of continuous suffering that we go through as entrepreneurs and as leaders.

It’s like this cycling, the cycle of [00:05:00] suffering and renewal, where we just really push ourselves and stretch ourselves thin and make ourselves available to so many folks. And that has a tendency to either lead to burnout, if you don’t take care of yourself, or you can keep doing it long term. You can have a long term, kind of steady, positive impact.

Without some with some ups and downs, if you take good care of yourself. And so let’s dive in. And I know in the podcast, I talked about the four kind of categories of self care. There were mindfulness, hope, compassion, and play. So go listen to that podcast. You want to hear more, but talk to me, Ben, a little bit.

How are you putting those strategies into action for yourself these days or not? No, I fucking am in 2024. Good. Um, Yeah, I like to have very short, I like frequent accountability spikes. So I think tracking things like habits daily is much more powerful than tracking them weekly because You might forget for 24 hours, but that’s better than forgetting for 168 hours.[00:06:00]

So I took some of the visioning exercise I’ve learned through BFU and goal setting through all sorts of places, BFU included, and smooshed it all together and did a goal setting meeting with my wife. Cause she’s also self employed. She sells real estate. She also loves BFU, comes to the retreats. And we talked about the framework of health, wealth, love, which is a framework that’s not new to me.

It’s not new, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot. And we rated ourselves red, yellow, green. In each category. And of course, like many gym owners, I talked to when we own a gym and spend many hours there a week, sometimes it’s like the shoemaker’s kid always has the worst shoes. The gym owner doesn’t always want to do more gym stuff.

So we took those goals that we wanted to do based on the traffic lights and turn them into, for the most part, daily habits. And this came from, like, I really just, again, connecting with my purpose that I’m a leader in men’s group, which is a local organization near me, BFU, my gym, my son is 12. And so to me, it’s, if I’m not taking [00:07:00] care of myself, I’m not going to show up at my best.

And to be completely honest for a while there, I wasn’t taking care of my best self, especially over COVID. It was really stressful as many tumourers experienced, but there was a good chunk of me that was like, thank fucking God. And that was. Almost a little bit like embarrassing that I put myself to the point where I got to the place that now that I wasn’t working a ton, I felt immensely guilty about that and worried if I was going to go bankrupt, but I also was like, Oh my God, I needed this break now.

It went on way too long, but I developed some habits over that time that. Do not help me fulfill my purpose. Yeah. I love that so much. I want to get into what kind of some of the habits are that came out of that exercise, but I want to love, I would love for you to just go back and maybe just walk through that exercise again, just in step by step directions, because I love the idea of doing this kind of self audit either with yourself or the spouse, coworker, life partner, business partner.[00:08:00]

Having someone to walk through this with I think is so important, but can you just share the actual exercise again with a triangle? I think it’s really important. I want to take some notes and so they can go do it. Great So step one was we did visioning for a life for with the next three years look like maybe my wife did this independently We did it as a date because she wouldn’t do it unless we did a date.

So we had a nice date. So I’d encourage you as much as I’m joking about that. Don’t do it at your gym, go to the park, go to a restaurant, go somewhere you don’t normally go, get out of your head. And it’s set a timer for 10 minutes and just write pen and paper. Where do you live? How much money do you make?

Do you have a dog? Are you, how many kids do you have? Do you still have the gym? The sky’s the limit. Just vision what you want in three years. And most importantly, don’t try to figure out the how. It’s just the what. Fuck the how, just the what. Then we basically did the exact same exercise for a one year, but we made it a little bit more tactical, so that was more goal setting esque.

So same deal, paper, ten [00:09:00] minutes, write independently, and then we compared our notes and discussed. Great. Then I used the framework. So if you picture a triangle or a three legged stepping stool, one leg or point is health, which is, to me, physical, emotional, and mental, but you can decide the subcategories for yourself.

Then you have wealth, which is for me, the subcategories are like investments and retirement. Like you on track to not have to do the same thing you’re doing today, 30 years from now. Are you happy with where you’re spending your money and time? And are you making enough money? The three categories for me, so mostly dollar related.

And for us entrepreneurs, our purpose and our business are probably pretty intertwined. So that’s why I keep that as. And then love is just shorthand for relationships. Cause I like that they’re all one syllable words and it’s easier to remember. So that is, that’s honestly my reason. So that’d be like with your family.

With your friends if you’re religious, it can be the relationship with whichever God you choose. I think that also if you’re not self employed [00:10:00] You’re like your passion could live in love because that’s something that you love to do There’s we have our three categories and then we rated ourselves red yellow and green on the main category But also the three subcategories great.

So traffic light Red is not happening. Green is super happening. Yellow is happening. And then we picked the one to three areas that we wanted to focus on this quarter. So for me, one of those was health. That was my main one that I needed to focus on. Sure. And then from there we determined what are the steps we would take to improve our health.

So this might be a perfect segue into what I’m actually doing, my habits this year. I think that’s awesome. I, before we get into the habits, I just want to say thank you for sharing that in detail for our listeners. I hope you’re taking notes, but it’s three main steps, which is reflect for a little while on three years out, write it down, talk about it, reflect for a little while on one year out, write it down, talk about it, and then create your own version of Ben’s triangle.

It’s a little self assessment. Red light, yellow light, green light. How are you doing in those three or nine areas if you create [00:11:00] subcategories? And then talk about with a partner. And then you can move into the final step there was really moved to action, create some habits. So I love that framework.

Thanks, Ben. But then let’s keep going. So what kind of habits came out of it for you specifically? Yeah. One other quick thing on the triangle I should have mentioned because I merged some stuff we’re learning now with some stuff I learned from a mentor, like honestly, a decade ago. I think it’s better to be yellow in three areas than to be green in two and red in one.

You don’t want to be, I don’t want to be super rich, super fit, everybody hates me and I’m divorced. I would rather have everything be relatively about the same and you’re trying to nudge them up somewhat proportionate. So even though it fits as a triangle, I like the stepping stool analogy because if two legs are too strong, the stepping tool falls over.

Yeah, that’s personal bias. You don’t have to do that, but the goal isn’t. As much to get them all green as it is to get them all into balance and then rise [00:12:00] the ships I think it’s a great example, even though I probably wouldn’t hate being fit rich and hated But but it’s probably not my first choice. So I love the idea that there’s no buckets that are completely empty You’re at least getting a yellow.

I think is really a great way of looking at it So how about habits for you? What came out of your focus on? Health, if you’re on a podcast, you can’t see this, but I write them pen and paper, which is hilarious because I do everything else digitally. So I track everything. There’s something about reflecting and things that really helps with pen and paper, right?

There’s something about just, it’s hard to really be in that kind of like non linear daydreamy kind of space when you’re like in a spreadsheet. And so I think it makes sense that you do this on paper. So yeah, keep on going. Alright, so the habits that I’ve decided I have a specific time in the morning that I’m gonna get my ass out of bed by Because now that I work from home four days a week It’s really easy to roll out of bed and five minutes later be on email But I’m still I’m not my best self until I get some coffee in me and some journaling and that type of stuff [00:13:00] Yeah I need to increase my protein intake because I always fucking snack at night.

I love salty and sweet, which means I love all junk food. And I find you’re not buying a gym owner. No, not at all. As my gym owner friends, no more protein, less cravings to snack. So I’m having a double protein shake every morning, six days a week. I am in the gym alternating either workouts or like mobility and core.

I have a very colorful laundry list of injuries ranging from. Organ damage to nerve problems, to other things that I’m not going to get into in this podcast. But for me, frequency in the gym is far more important than intensity. So I’m trying to do six short things a week rather than three longer ones.

Great. Five days a week, I’m doing continued education. So that varies between audiobooks for like personal developments type stuff. And we’ve got stuff we’re working on at VFU right now, which is like mostly video based. I’m also doing morning gains and gratitude. So I do three things that for gains, which is a [00:14:00] synonym for wins from the day before.

Three things I’m grateful for and what my focus is for the day. And I want to say three wins every day is a fucking hard stuff. And I don’t journal like today. I’m grateful for this. Mine is literally, it says grat short for gratitude. And I have three bullet points. It’s the quickest journaling ever, but sometimes it takes me five minutes to write those three words.

But I think that’s valuable because it is, I believe it’s training me and getting better at recognizing wins. Anyone knows a win if you win the lottery, that’s not hard to determine, but maybe a win is like a moment you had with your son or an interaction with a client that you just did 1 percent better.

I want to train myself to get better at finding wins so I can be more optimistic. Yeah. Um, also to say this, Ben, I just want to pause there because I think a lot of folks when they hear like gratitude journals, blah, blah, they start to roll their eyes and be like, Oh, this is like a bunch of bullshit. But the reality is it’s not one of the biggest contributions or additions to like modern thinking about psychology in the last.

A few decades [00:15:00] is really the kind of positive psychology movement. And there’s like a mountain of real research and data that suggests that thinking more positively about yourself, about others, about your life has this amazing trickle effect in how you show up, how you perform, how you relate. Um, and so it’s not just we’ll rub some crystals together.

Bullshit though. I’ll do respect to my fellow crystal loving people out there. There’s really real, real research that shows that this kind of practice, this kind of habit of thinking about what’s going well and leveraging your positives is incredibly beneficial on multiple levels. So I just wanted to interject that for any folks out there who roll their eyes when they think about gratitude journaling.

Yeah, no, I appreciate that because I don’t know the science as well as you do, but anecdotally I am measurably happier since I started doing this six months ago. Yeah. And I don’t, I, again, it’s short form for gratitude. Like I am logic as hell about it. And at most it’s three words. I don’t do sentences. [00:16:00] I don’t have a special journal.

It’s dot paper. Yeah. Super straightforward. I love that. It’s the most, it’s the most pared down version. Like this has not been sitting with a pen and like crying over his chai latte every morning. This has been like writing three words a day that get him to connect with what’s fucking going well. And even that.

Has, as you put it, a measurable impact on your overall satisfaction with life. So good for you. Thanks. That’s the most Ben journal ever, but it works for me. It is. There’s a lot of listeners that are just like you, like they don’t want to, they don’t want to do this kind of like self therapy every morning.

They don’t just want to connect with what’s good. And that’s the version you’re doing. And that still works. That’s still beneficial. Absolutely. And I’ve got two, two more habits. One is no screens of any size in bed, no matter what, no exceptions. And I say it that harsh because I would love to decompress by, I love movies.

I [00:17:00] like watching shows. I always enjoyed that type of stuff, but one show turns into four shows. Then I check YouTube and then I go to bed at fucking. 1230 at night with a blue screen in front of my face and I’m halfway through a fiction book already It’s fucking amazing sci fi thing that I can’t pronounce the author’s author’s name, but me and my wife agreed no screens in bed It’s for sleep sex and reading and I want all three to improve.

Yeah as most of us do. Yeah Preach and then the last habit is No recreational screens until I work out. So if I don’t, if I want to watch my favorite TV show, which I’m really big into slow horses with Gary Oldman right now, I don’t get to watch that show unless I go to the fucking gym. Great. And it works so well for me because there’s days from like Saturday I’m like, I won’t play video games or hang out or do whatever that might have a screen related because everything does Put on my gym clothes go downstairs for 20 [00:18:00] minutes do some mobility then I can do that thing and these are my habits I’m not saying I have to be yours, but it makes me feel like I’m I’m taking one baby step towards my purpose closer every day.

And for my personality type, what I’ve learned about myself, again, I like that frequent engagement with a thing rather than I have to move this huge boulder today, but then I’ll rest tomorrow. I’d rather move it halfway each day. Ben, this list is so fantastic. Not only do I think it’s fantastic because I know you and I know how much this stuff matters to you and this is going to work for you, but I think it’s such a beautiful illustration of how you took this like self reflective exercise with your lady and you turned it into like real actual kind of rules you live by, right?

Like real habits that you commit to that it’s so tangible and tactical. And we talk all the time on this podcast, we use this phrase of like setting up your day to be like a game you can win. And you have set up like the rules of your day, the habits of your day to really [00:19:00] help you win, to help you fulfill your purpose and be stoked about your life.

And I think it’s such a beautiful illustration of like how this kind of self care can translate to like actually better fucking life. It’s not just some woo exercise, like you are leading a better life every day when you do these things you’ve committed to 100%. Yeah, thank you. I appreciate that. I know we’re getting longer now.

I have one quick thing that helps with the game. You can win. Yeah, go for it. So the rows are my habits. The days are my columns. I just do a check mark. If I did the thing I said I would do end of the week. I write a number for my total in the next column over just draw lines on my paper. All right. I do the cumulative total for the year and I love this because when you get to a point where you’re like I’m not doing enough walks or protein shakes or whatever, you look at your thing and you’re like holy fuck I’m at 120.

Even though today it feels true to [00:20:00] me that I haven’t done anything to make progress. That’s not objectively true with a capital T and I find that so incredibly motivating to not just get streaks But to see oh, I’m I’m doing way better than I thought it was that’s half the reason. That’s amazing It’s a great gut check.

Yeah, that’s amazing. Do we have a do we have a template for that? I mean in real time I’m asking you like is there a template for that that we could use or share because I think a lot of people would write One to have once a week I could make a Google doc pretty easily. Yeah, let’s do that. I’m going to in this real time in this podcast, I’m committing to you can’t do it.

I’ll do it, but we’ll actually make a version of that template and just put it in the show notes so you all can get into it. Some of you, I know want something like that, but are not great at spreadsheets yet. And so let us just give you one that you can just plug in your habits to and start using. Cause I think just having that simple routine of checking the box, yes or no, and then seeing the cumulative effect over time, I think it’s such a winning combination.

So, yeah, thanks for that. And dear listeners, it’ll be down in the, in the show notes down below, we’ll share something with [00:21:00] you. All right, my friend, let’s wrap it up. This was so helpful. I know that some listeners are maybe sick of us talking about self care since this is the second podcast in a few weeks.

But the reason we talk about it is because as Bed said so beautifully on this podcast, it is, it is the necessary component to you living a fulfilling life. Purposeful life, if you’re going to be an entrepreneur and impact your life in a positive way and those around you, you need to be good at caring for yourself.

Nothing else happens if you’re in the shitty place. Thanks for this great conversation, Ben, as so valuable as always. And you’re listening to, if you want to join us in Austin, Texas, go DM us on Instagram for more information about that retreat, which again is happening March 2nd and 3rd. If you reach out to us before January 14th, get the cheapest possible pricing.

Thanks for a great episode, Ben. See you on the next one. Thank you. Talk soon. Yeah.