We often hear things like you gotta hustle and grind, or people talking about the concept of life balance, the idea of ideal fulfillment, or the search for eternal happiness.

Truth is, nothing is permanent.

Life ebbs and flows.

There are good days and bad, empowering moments and difficult moments, times to hustle, and times to recover.

If you live life with your foot on the gas pedal full time, you will at some point blow the engine, and that will express itself as burn out, depression, sickness, injury, or relationship issues. All of these things are symptoms of too much, too often, with no recuperation.

No matter if it’s about how you work, how you workout, or how you socialize, you have to create an approach that actually links to a green, yellow, and red zone strategy.

Red Zone is going over the top, over-reaching, going beyond your means, taking on more than you believe you can handle or feels right. Without over-reaching, you won’t grow.

This is a fact of the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological spheres of our lives. Over-reaching stimulates or demands adaptation, your body, your brain, your physiology respond to increased stress, whatever that stress may be, by accommodating to it, building more capacity to handle that stress so next time you encounter that intensity you are ready and no longer challenged by that same level of stress.

This is how we grow and get better at anything.

Want to learn how to ride a bike? You have to lose your balance, wobble, fall a few times, catch yourself, all in an effort to accommodate and adapt. Slowly but surely your body recognizes when to zig, when to zag, and voila, you are riding a bike. But that then becomes pretty easy, so if you want to take it to another level, be able to handle, say some single-track mountain biking, well you need to try that now, and start all over with the wobbling, stepping off, crashing, or going completely ass over tea kettle!

You want to run a business, make it successful?

Red zone work means long days, big days of work, trying things, making mistakes, trying risky approaches, maybe even doing things people say you shouldn’t do, just because you have this “feeling”. In short, no red zone, no learning, no over-reaching, no business. You will not succeed.

But here’s where the shift in consciousness has to occur.

There are two other zones we need to recognize and live in from time to time so that all that accommodation and adaptation can take.

You see if I ride that mountain bike and I don’t pause to let me body absorb what it’s just learned, for a minute, for an hour, for a day, maybe even for several weeks, if I just keep trying and trying and trying, my body will either break, or I will cease to absorb the stimulus. I won’t get better, I might even get worse!

Maybe I run a trail a little less difficult, one I am familiar with, or one I can manage well to negotiate, and in so doing my body starts to incorporate the adaptations. I start to manoeuver over and through things with just a little more confidence, I feel a sense of accomplishment and my body starts to go from that sympathetic flight or fight response I feel whenever I am on the edge, to a state of greater calm, one where I feel like I have to be on my game, but not on TOP of my game!

This is Yellow Zone work. It’s still challenging, it still requires focus and intentional connection, but it isn’t requiring absolute and complete commitment every moment. This is the sweet spot of adaptation and regulation. The zone where we get to show off a bit, demonstrate that we know what we are doing, and do it really well. Gain confidence in our ability, demonstrate an ability to be in the game!

We need to effectively allow ourselves to live in this zone more frequently than we do. Seemingly these days, we are either all on, in the red zone almost constantly, or we are in the green zone trying to recover but doing a crappy job of it because we are too tired to actually engage in the green zone work.

Yes, I said it, green zone work.

Green Zone is the real recovery zone. Where we give ourselves permission to just absorb life, tune in to ourselves, be alone, sleep, read a book just for the pure escape of it, go for a walk and think about……..nothing!

Most of us pay limited mind to really resting. We are in the red zone all day, then we hit a self-imposed zone I call the brown zone. That’s the exhaustion zone. That’s the zone where we start at the TV for an hour and forget what we watched. That’s the zone where we sit beside our loved ones and pretend we are spending time with one another, that’s the zone where we eat a pizza and chase it with a bowl of double fudge chocolate ice cream, that’s the zone where we drink five glasses of wine and only realize when the bottle is empty, that’s the zone where our head hits the pillow with deep exhaustion, but seconds later won’t let you sleep because your brain won’t stop thinking shitty thoughts!

The Brown Zone is the shit zone and it’s not something we create, it’s something we accept.

Brown zone is like drinking brown water, it isn’t very healthy!

Red zone, brown zone, red zone, brown zone and thus the days flow on and on until we hit a wall.

Heart attack!

Loss of loved one!

Kids that misbehave!


Business fails!

Lose all your money!

And the list goes on.

How do you build a Red, Yellow, Green Zone life?

Consciously and consistently understanding what each one looks like, learning what they feel like, living in each one intentionally.

First thing you need to do is evaluate each day, consider what you do each day, apply a form of intensity monitor on each thing you do, recognize the redness of your actions.

Start learning what is truly green, intentionally engage in green lifestyle choices. Naps, meditation, reading, deep conversations, walks with no distraction, nutrition with impact. Begin to learn about these things.

In the coming weeks I will be writing more about Red, Yellow and Green zone lifestyle, and how to do it right. Come back and visit, and we will grow together.

No more running in the red and flopping into the brown.

Live life with intention, live it in the red, live it in the yellow and live it in the green!

Own it!

Originally published at medium.com