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Are You Well?

A Hospital Scare Reminded Me To Prioritize My Health

Last week I was admitted to the Emergency Unit at The Alfred with severe abdominal pain.  

After an uncomfortable night of prodding, poking, testing, scanning and answering the same questions over and over (a big shout out and thank you to the incredible team at The Alfred Hospital) I was discharged with a clean bill of health.


This will sound a bit dramatic, but there was a moment at about 4am, when the doctor booked me in for a CT Scan to (in his words) “rule out any nasties”, where my life kind of flashed before my eyes. I’m not one to panic, nor am I a hypochondriac (AND I have complete faith in Australia's medical system - Dad was a surgeon), but I’ve lost too many friends to cancer over the past few years for this not to feel quite ominous. 

Even though the scan was just a precaution, at that moment, it felt like a diagnosis. Thoughts flashed through my head about the possibilities; what would a cancer diagnosis mean to my life, my family, my partner, and my businesses. I mean, how would things continue at work without me? And what about all those fabulous plans I have about growing old with the love of my life?


Needless to say, I am healthy and well, but the whole experience left me with the reminder that my health is so very precious.  

It also reconfirmed how much priority I want (need) to give to my health. I mean, what’s the point in all this work stuff, if I’m not around (or not well enough) to enjoy it? Conversely, to achieve all the fun/amazing things I want to do at work, I need to be fully functioning on every level (physical, mental, emotional).


After my burnout last year, I’ve made some adjustments to my approach to work this year and have set some powerful goals around my physical, mental and emotional health. This hospital experience has just cemented in my mind how much these goals need to take priority over everything else.


When I look at the times at work when things feel out of control, it’s usually because I’ve stopped prioritising my health. When I’m operating from a place of optimal health, it’s so much easier to deal with whatever life/work throws at me, enabling perspective and equipping me with the ability to solve problems calmly.


The trouble is, as small business owners, we’re primed to be always chasing the professional goals, and placing them in front of everything else in our life. 


I think we’re doing it all wrong.


My philosophy at TDC is that to succeed in business, we need to prioritize our health and wellbeing. Not only do we need to get clear on what actions will move us towards our most optimal health, we need to incorporate these into our weekly planning so that work doesn’t override everything else.


I’ve decided that this year my health is going to take priority over everything else. To give you an idea (and to make myself accountable), I want to share some of my health goals for 2024:  

  • Cardio fitness: I’ve signed up to a local gym that has 6am cardio classes. This is pushing me way outside my comfort zone, as I’ve not traditionally been a “morning person” and I’ve allowed my cardio training to slip to the wayside in the past couple of years. 

  • Cycling: As part of my cardio fitness mission, we’ve bought bikes and plan to cycle at least 3 times a week. We’re also looking into cycling holidays in Australia and overseas. Getting out on my bike feels incredibly freeing and connects me even more to our beautiful city.

  • Good food: Eating clean, healthy food really sets me up to win in all other areas of life. We’re committed to a weekly shop at Queen Vic Markets and during the week cooking healthy, low carb, high protein meals, including 1 vegetarian meal per week.

  • Improving sleep. We both suffer from unsettled sleep patterns, so have signed up to see a sleep specialist at the Sleep Clinic in Melbourne. Getting the right amount of sleep not only improves physical wellbeing, it’s intricately connected to our general mental and emotional wellbeing also.

  • Skin Health: After a melanoma scare last year, we’ve both signed up to the Alfred Melanoma Clinic’s Melanoma Surveillance Trial where they’re using the latest artificial intelligence and melanoma surveillance photography to improve early detection of skin cancers, and reduce unnecessary skin biopsies.

  • Reduction of alcohol. This is tricky, because one of our passions is good wine. And good gin… For me, a big part of the process of reducing alcohol consumption is understanding its role in slowing down and switching off, and finding alternate ways to do this. Hence…

  • Slowing down. By nature I want to travel at a million miles per hour. Not only do I sometimes feel that life is flying by too fast (by my own design), I’m also aware of the health risks associated with the stress that comes with that pace. Some of the things that slow me down include: cooking at the end of a big day, morning meditations, candlelit Yin yoga and evening walks. We’ve also taken to booking weekends in our calendar that are “no plans allowed”.

  • Holidays. The whole process of researching, booking and looking forward to travel is a passion I inherited from my Mum. The actual holidays themselves seem to go past in a flash, but the anticipation beforehand and the memories savoured afterwards fill out my year with immense joy.


The process of setting these goals feels empowering. However, one thing I’ve learned over the years: having all these fancy goals is one thing, but sticking to them is another thing entirely. How many of us set healthy resolutions every January after the excess of December, only to see them forgotten completely by February (or March at a stretch)?


My secret: the key to making goals stick is to share them. Whether it’s with your partner, best friend or work colleague, your chances of achieving goals are magnified hugely when you share them with someone you like and trust. Add a bit of structure to the process, such as a regular check-in (once a fortnight or month) and some measurable outcomes, and the odds get stacked in our favour even more.


At home, Brendan and I have a monthly check-in to discuss everything from finances, to family, home and our health. At work I have an accountability partner that I check in with monthly to review wellness and personal goals, in addition to my business goals. These meetings really provide me with structure to make sure that I’m giving priority to ALL areas of my life, not just work.


Do you have someone to share your health goals with? 


It’s so important to find the right support to give you the highest chance of winning with your goals. In our Premium Group Coaching Program, launching in April, we put personal and wellness goals front and centre. Our Accountability Groups help you set and review goals in your Professional, Personal and Wellness areas every fortnight. This part of our program is so popular, most groups continue on for years after the program has ended! (NOTE: We have 3 days left to access our Early Bird Special - save over $700)


I want to leave you with a beautiful poem by an unknown author that was shared with me last year by a wonderful TDC Member (thanks Angie!) that has stuck with me and resonates even MORE SO this week:


“Life is amazing and then it is awful,

And then it is amazing again,

And in between the amazing and awful,

It's ordinary and mundane and routine.

Breathe in the amazing,

Hold on through the awful,

And relax and exhale during the ordinary.

That's just living, heartbreaking, soul healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life,

And it's breathtakingly beautiful.” 

By Unknown Author


Yes, life can be hard, then it can be incredible. And I want to be the most healthy version of me possible so I get to be around for all of it, even the “mundane” bits in between.


Until next week, stay well and always be kind!



Andrew and the TDC Team.

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