3. Health and Fitness
Health, like finance, needs to be a priority on some level for every single person. Ignoring your health will have a massively negative impact on you and your creative output.
First, you will be unable to do your work with maximal efficiency. If you are tired from lack of sleep, your focus will be shot and you won’t be able to write. If you ignore a problem like diabetes, you won’t be able to function mentally, and you may lose time to being physically ill. Likewise, if your weight is out of control, you will lack the physical capacity to perform live as a musician.
Second, ignoring your health will shorten your life. That smoking habit will take its toll, eventually. Obesity will catch up with you at some point and you’ll have heart problems that can’t be easily fixed by the medical establishment. You’ll also go from health that allows you to work to being disabled earlier in your life. All of that will shrink the amount of creative work you can do over the long term.
On the other hand, you can sacrifice your health to increase your output in the short term. Artists of varying kinds have taken amphetamines and other stimulants to avoid sleep and work relentlessly, but such a lifestyle comes at a large cost, especially as time goes on.
For some people, fitness and health is their absolute top priority, and that’s fine too if that is you. Exercise will help you live longer and enjoy the life you have more, but there is always a cost, usually in the form of time, but in it could also be risk of injury and wear and tear on your body.
Professional athletes actually sacrifice their long-term health to achieve extreme excellence during their youth. The intense training and competition regimens required to operate at a professional level can break down the body and cause life-long injuries. The drugs that are used by many professional athletes likewise can have very serious health consequences in exchange for short-term performance.
Bodybuilding is probably the most notorious regarding these trade-offs, with former competitors dying outright due to kidney failure (like Nasser El Sonbaty), and even contemporary competitors (like Dallas McCarver) dying of heart failure, possibly due to the types of drugs required to compete in the IFBB. Eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman went from being one the biggest (and strongest) men in the world to being unable to walk due to the extreme training he subjected himself to, which included routine squats of more than 800 pounds.
This is an example of the complexity of these areas, and that there are indeed sub-foci that can contradict one another in every large area of focus.
The main thing is, to keep your creative output consistent, you need to pay attention to your health in some capacity. Working optimally for an hour because you are well-rested is probably better than working two hours while fighting sleep or being sick.
I’ll address this later, but lots of people give themselves too much slack when they have a cold. If you are truly ill (for me that means throwing up or in horrific pain) it is fine to rest, but having a cold doesn’t mean you should be totally out of commission, especially when you have a deadline to meet. Getting that little bit of work done at what capacity you have will be important over the long-term.
Check out my classic fantasy novel, Water of Awakening: