Why you must know when to call it a day

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Knowing the time to call it a day


By Afternoon, the mental and physical fatigue starts to set in. The thought of grinding it out for one more client tickles your cerebral cortex. Your mind can picture five, maybe ten more cuts if you just push yourself a little more. You can feel the money stacking up in your pockets, if you just ignore the creeping pain in your feet or the tightness in your back, the dull pain in your shoulders and neck or the stiffness in your hands; bills can get paid, and clients will be happy you took care of them.


Why not? You can always rest when you are dead. Start stacking up money, grind the wheels till you fall off. If you don’t cut them today do you know what might happen? They may find another barber and never come back! They may think that you do not value them. You may not have any clients tomorrow and then how will you pay your bills? All these concerns swirl around your head making so much noise that you debate sacrificing your body for money. But is it really money? Its fear, which is at the very root of most questionable decisions, just like the one you are contemplating.


Fear can be very damaging, especially when you are not honest with yourself about it. Fear of becoming broke, or not having extra money, pushed me in to adopting a Super Man complex so to speak. Telling myself that I could cut more hours than anyone else. My cuts will be superior to any other barber. I would move faster than anyone has seen. I would not waste valuable work time eating and taking breaks. I would eat a large breakfast in the morning and eat nothing afterward, so I could avoid the restroom breaks. I only drank small amounts of fluids so I could reduce the time running to the restroom, and avoid anything else that took away from cutting hair.


Looking back, I realize my own foolishness. But my vision of having this large clientele that loved my service soon filled up the shop and gave me the income to buy motorcycles, trucks, and my first home. I used to tell myself that the reason I push so hard is because I love cutting hair and feel great of such success.


I found out that if you push anything to the limit consistently, eventually the strain you put on yourself will start to break you down.


I remember standing at the urinal each day for my end of the day release; which was usually a very long event because I had so much built up, my bladder would be beyond full. Of course, I could not see any problem in this routine. Till one day, I returned to a waiting client after finishing my daily release. But my bladder was still releasing, Drip-Drip-Drip, and I could feel the moisture accumulating. I went back to the restroom and noticed that I could no longer control the flow. Literally, I tried to shake it off and get back to work. Dumb decision. But I had to get that money, I told myself. And off I went back to cutting, ignoring the warning sign that something was wrong.


Success mistake #2 came about three years later. I love looking nice and dressing nice, I spent years being overweight and I was very happy that after years of hard work I was able to lose 95lbs through exercise and eating better. But years of standing on my feet, wearing shoes that were stylish and lacking support, I would occasionally have sharp pain in my feet, which would usually last for a few days. I used to apply a lot of ice and ibuprofen to alleviate the pain at night, which always got me through the next day and that was my routine.


Superman could not afford to be off his feet and neither could I, so I consistently pushed through the pain, yet another dumb move! Then it finally happened during my tenth year of barbering, I had pushed through the pain all day while cutting hair, and each step I would take had become more painful than the proceeding one. It felt like each step was equivalent of jumping off a roof and landing barefoot on your feet. But I made it through the day.


Laying in my bed that night, I kept tossing and turning because my right foot burned as if though it was on fire. Eventually, I had to get up and go to the bathroom across the hall. As soon as my foot touched the ground, the pain erupted, my foot had swollen more than I had ever seen before. My once slim ankle more closely resembled the ankle of someone three times my size.  I began sweating profusely and was on the verge of crying due to the pain. I tried limping towards the bathroom, but failed. I had to abandon that goal.


I cried out for help, my mother wrapped my foot with all the ice packs we had in the house. Later she wheeled me into the restroom in our computer chair and I finally relieved myself. I knew that after years of saying “I am going to work and grind till wheels fall off”, my wheel had finally fallen off. I spent the next three months in an orthopedic boot with my foot up in the air; my foot was fractured in three different places because of the years of stress I put on them. While my other foot suffered from degenerative bone loss.


I want you to understand that the world will not fall apart if you take a break, call it an early day or take a vacation. Yes, someone might be unhappy or disappointed that they could not get a haircut, but you will never be able to please everyone, that is a fact.


You have to consider the big picture; the time you spend taking care of yourself will extend the years you will be able to consistently perform at older ages. If you listen to your body, make wise nutritional decisions, rest mentally and physically, and acquire the proper support equipment, such as well cushioned shoes with sturdy insoles, anti-fatigue mat, back and wrist braces and other equipment that provide great support during work.


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