This is a sport, you are an athlete.

The restaurant industry is rough on our bodies and our minds. The high stress, the habit of eating for pleasure and sport, the habit of not eating, the tendency to socialize only while partying, the long hours, the strange hours, the competition, the isolation from the rest of society, these things add up to a perfect storm of health problems and personal problems.

Creating a long term, sustainable career in this industry takes intention and planning. It takes knowing what you want out of your career and out of life, and staying in line with those values.

If you look at the most successful people in this industry, the Michelin starred chefs, the James beard winners, the Chefs who go on to open multiple properties and restaurant groups- what you see there is Energy. A ton of hard work and creativity, of course, as well as well timed opportunities and choices, but most of all, what these people all have in common is energy. They have enough energy to work until the job is done, they stay up planning and dreaming, they work 2 or 3 jobs, they make connections with the right people, they build teams and keep them motivated, they are clear headed enough to see what is coming next and plan for it.

These people are motivated, healthy, and they have a plan for where they are going.

Too much of the industry operates in a chronic state of no energy.

Where does all of our energy go?

-It goes into our partying and being hungover the next day.

-It goes into our diets of fried foods and sugar.

-It goes into our lack of sleep.

-It goes into our worry about problems at home created by our schedules.

-It goes into our tendency to scatter our efforts into too many projects.

In my opinion, this work that we do, restaurants, is a sport. Sure, it pays the bills, but that’s not the reason you are here. You are here for the love of it, the excitement, the adrenaline, the creativity, the team mentality. The dream of making it to the big time.

So, if this is a sport, then you are an athlete. Right? How do you prepare yourself for the game?

Are you up early fueling yourself with healthy food or are you sleeping till noon, hungover from partying the night before?

Are you keeping your body limber and strong to tackle the long shifts on your feet and heavy lifting?

Are you well hydrated or are you powering down energy drinks all day?

Do you have a clear picture of where you want to go in your life and your career?

Answer me this:

  1. Do you feel like food gives you energy?

  2. Do you feel challenged physically throughout your shift?

  3. Do you have a plan for the future?

You are not alone in your answers.  We are all working with our heads down, trying to be fast enough to get everything done, that we don’t look up to see the big picture. And the big picture is that if we have a plan, and if we are well prepared, we don’t have to work as hard. Things get easier the clearer we are, mentally and physically.

All this month, we will be exploring ways to get your energy, your life, your career back on track. It starts with small steps. They add up to big results!

Laura Mcwilliams