ADDING SOME EVERYDAY ZEN to your business is the best investment for 2015 Amber Daines Recently the UK’s most famous entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson came out in an article for Inc.com and said that “time was the new money”. A fairly simple statement in and of itself, the story pretty quickly had had social media buzzing. When I read this, I was one of the many retweeting groupies because what this successful self-made billionaire stated struck a big cord with me and it seems also so many of the hard-working but slightly over-worked business friends. Time for money is what most of us trade on and it’s how we make a living. It’s a one-way transaction though – your time can be turned into money, but not the other way around. And the trade-off can be scary. Lack of regular exercise, poor diet, less mental focus, and drinking too much wine at night to “switch off” after a hectic day all add to the pattern. Ariana Huffington’s acclaimed book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder has been on my high rotation reading and reference list for a few months now. It speaks to the heart of every modern business person who’s time-poor and health-poorer. She had her own wake-up call when she pushed her body and mind to the limit working 17 hour days for years in the early days of the Huffington Post. Falling down and injuring herself from sheer exhaustion was the turning point for Ariana. In her book, she shares her own research and that of experts in meditation, health and business who tell us what we need to know to avoid a physical and mental breakdown in the pursuit of more money and power. It’s a cliché that without your health you having nothing. But it’s also a fact. The upshot of ‘Thrive’ is perhaps nothing new but it summarises the journey I am on and know many of my peers are too. After seven years of running my own PR strategy and media skills agency, I am tired. Throw into the mix raising two little boys, balancing schedules with an e qually career-charged husband, weekend sports, socialising, Sydney traffic and endless demands from every corner I look to, it is hardly surprising. Stress on an ongoing basis is negative for everyone. It generates cortisol and adrenalin, which wreaks havoc on our nervous systems, and makes our minds foggy and affects our productivity. Not a great thing to run a business on let alone a lifestyle! The past six months has been my professional sabbatical in some ways. In April, after lots of thought, I made a strategic decision to walk away from my pipeline lucrative (but energy-sapping) PR clients that were simply not growing my business in the direction I want it to go to. I am committed to being the best media trainer and PR strategist in town and that has meant saying “no” more times than my accountant would like me to this year. But it was deliberate and worthwhile for me to be brave and get of the adrenalin-pumped merry-go-round that I have probably been on for almost 20 years. Our young family needs me home more and I want to be there before I miss out on too many milestones and everyday conversations that make a childhood take shape. My days have been spent chasing up the clients I really want to work with, saying ‘yes’ to new and daunting speaker opportunities, working for charities and writing for magazines and blogs (like this one) that mean something to me. What has also happened is I have finally understood what it means to be mindful; not just on a walk, when I get to smell the roses literally. It has certainly taken me years to “get” what being truly present is all about. In my times of great and compounding stress, with deadlines looming, in the wake of sleepless nights with sick offspring and a husband who has a big new job to step into, it’s been necessary for me to stay in the moment. To shrug of the mental “to do” lists for the days or weeks ahead. And you know what? It’s worked. I can literally feel my central nervous system is calmer – though it could use a few more practice runs some days – my head is clearer, my soul feels lighter and I can face almost anything. One step at a time.