A Healthy Balance
Imagine the scenario: You have been consulting with a Client for a while now — several options are possible:
- You work from home
- You travel to the Client’s office daily
- You stay locally to the Client’s workplace for periods at a time
- All the above
Different Client engagements in different locations require you to mix-up your balance of each of those options. And just when you think you have a routine nailed, it’s time to move to a different Client engagement all over again. So, what do you do and how do you deal with it?
If you work from home constantly and only ever engage in remote opportunities — then your routine is likely to be well defined and changeable whenever you need it to. But what if you do need to travel to the Client’s workplace for small or extended periods of time? What then?
If you are staying in hotels constantly, the easy option is breakfast at the hotel. All English breakfasts, endless cups of juice, coffee and tea and you are set for your day, ready to take on the world and an expanding waistline — or perhaps you are a more conscientious person, opting for the continental breakfasts, preparing yourself for those trips abroad so that you can seamlessly fit in when you can eat outside all expenses paid? Maybe you prefer more of a DIY approach and a simple bowl of cereal and toast will suffice?
How are you going to eat your breakfast for the next contract you sign? It sounds ludicrous, but it is of simplest importance. If breakfast sets you up for the day, then what are the ingredients that set you up? Are you going to be able to get those ingredients easily and to your liking, because of taking on that contract? If you are not — is it going to negatively affect you? Is it going to impede your performance? If it is, do you have a solution or an alternative? Do you have a backup plan?
If you are so set on a specific Coffee and you have habituated yourself to the point that you cannot live without that coffee at a certain time every day — what are you going to do? Going cold turkey at the Client workplace may not be the best approach and could negatively impact other people’s perception of you and your reputation. Finding a way to port that habituation may be possible — the Client may have coffee facilities or a barista at the workplace. If that is important to you — ask before you agree a contract (or find out) — I have never thought anything negative of any prospect asking me about what catering facilities are available, let alone me asking the prospective Client specific questions that mean I can do my job productively.
Why would snacks feature in my decision making for contracts? Are you following a nutrition plan? Do you need to make certain snacks with ingredients designed to reaching a nutritional or dieting goal? Can you prepare in the workplace? If not, can you prepare in the accommodation up front? If not, how are you going to deal with this? Why should your nutritional goals be impacted by a contract?
Maybe this is a good opportunity to create new, healthier habits to replace old habits that psychologically are hard to remove?
If you need to justify it, know this: If your snacks impact your mood and going without them negatively impacts your mood — how do you think you are going to be reacting to the Client’s stakeholders you engage with? How is that going to look upon you and your long-term value to the Client? Exactly.
Find a solution and look after yourself. By looking after yourself, you are looking after your Client.
Do the catering facilities meet up to your expectations? How much does it cost, and have you factored in this expense on a day to day basis against the agreed contract costs? If the workplace are offering catering facilities for free, brilliant — but are the meals offered aligned to your health aspirations? If you must pay, do you want to or are you happy getting a meal deal at the local newsagents or supermarket (for example)?
Some people use the company cooking facilities at Lunchtime to be their main meal of the day, opting to have a smaller meal later in the day.
If you prefer healthier foods and recognise your needs won’t be met, do you prepare the food yourself or give up the contract entirely? I have made choices that have meant I have spent more on accommodation that allows kitchen facilities so I can prepare food to keep a healthier lifestyle.
You have reached the end of the day, what are you going to do — try out the finest and worst of the local area’s offering every night? If you can legitimately expense it as an option, and a lot of people do, it can be a great way of trying out new things, debriefing with colleagues and expanding your waistline all in one go.
For several Clients locations, I knew the ability to get ingredients would be difficult, but the kitchen facilities were possible through short term renting options. I opted to take an approach of using companies like HelloFresh to send me the ingredients for the periods I was needing to stay local to the Client’s location.
There is simplicity in being able to choose the foods you are going to cook and then use the time cooking as downtime from work whilst retaining that productive feeling.
The meals were for two, so I ate one for an evening meal and the other was ready to reheat for lunch the next day. For me, this was a win-win. I could just get on with what I was focused on at the Client location during the day, and in the evening, reward myself with a cooked meal with quality ingredients. I even got a kick out of comparing them with the menu (see below).
Above has assumed a typical 3 meals a day with the possibility of snacks in between. What if you don’t take that approach at all and prefer the grazing approach, smaller meals more often? If you are used to making and preparing these daily, are you going to be able to do this when away from your usual access to ingredients and preparation materials?
So what’s my point, why make a whole article about eating? My point is portability — your willingness to adapt your current habits to meet the needs of delivering successful value for a Client. Don’t sacrifice, adapt and port to maintain your life and keep yourself successful.
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The Consulting Life series, and this article in the series is also published through Medium. Read Here..