On April 16th, 2014 my father, an entrepreneur, suffered a stroke and heart attack. He was 67 when I found him on his condo floor, nearly motionless. Today, he lives with a full time caregiver who helps him dress, bathe and eat, and he can’t work or walk without assistance. The 20-year-old business he owns is dormant.

Like my father, I too own my own business.  I’m married, and a new father to two beautiful children. Outside of my business, I now manage my father’s company and personal finances. There are weeks where I fight to keep my head above water as I try to manage it all, but one thing I never neglect is my health. I put my health ahead of everything on the “to-do” list, and always will and it’s important I share this story in hopes that every entrepreneur does the same.

Looking back on my childhood, I remember my loving father as physically fit. He taught me how to skate, throw a baseball, and swing a golf club. When he started his own business, his attention began to shift. Work became the mainstay, and within a couple of years of incorporating, he was pushing 18-hour days. It became an addiction, and worsened over time. He seemed unable to divorce himself from anything on his desk.

I spent years trying to get my father to create a better balance. I nagged him about exercising, sleeping, and eating healthy, but the more I nagged, the more guilt I felt projecting advice like a parent. My efforts were failing, so I stepped back and watched as my father risked his health for his business.

Since my father’s stroke, I pay close attention to the way other fellow entrepreneurs live; many of them living the way my father did – little or no exercise, long hours, high amounts of caffeine, sugars, stimulants and supplements in the hopes of keeping up with the grind. Occasionally I ask others why they don’t exercise, eat well, or take regular breaks for themselves—the excuses I get are endless. These excuses act as variations on a common theme: most people simply don’t prioritize their health, or deem it less important than everything else.

Most of the corporate world has slipped into the same mental trap my father did, viewing exercise as a time waster. Although I never believed in this philosophy, I was a bit worried that partners, suppliers and clients would see my morning routine as either selfish or lazy since I wasn’t in my office “early” like everybody else. I no longer hide behind how I structure my day. Rather than pretend I’m in a meeting (which I did for years) I freely share my morning routine with everyone I do business with and don’t make excuses.

Mornings start with a healthy breakfast with my kids, followed by some journaling and/or meditation and finally a workout. I am not at my desk before 9:30am; EVER.

When I tell others, the responses I get are mostly positive. People don’t think I’m lazy; instead they envy the control I have over my time and my day.

My mission now is to share my routine and my story in hopes that all entrepreneurs start incorporating “health” into their daily schedule.  Putting that into practice doesn’t have to be difficult. Block the time in your calendar and don’t waver. Watch as productivity, health, energy and happiness benefit from this small shift in behavior.

Work priorities can be endless, yet the list of health priorities should never be empty. As entrepreneurs, we have the luxury to decide how and when we do things, so let’s take control and make health the first priority on our list.  Consider the obvious irrelevance of everything else when we don’t have it.

Written By: Adam J. Levinter, Founder & President, Aragon Interactive

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