When I'm working away at a task with no break in sight, my enthusiasm, quality, productivity and creativity suffer. I shouldn't continue to be a victim of these ailments after I've experienced their crippling power in the past, but all too frequently I'm suckered back into thinking that success is best achieved when I put my head down and never stop!! I feel the pressure to be like that freaking Energizer Bunny. I can't live up to that standard, man! I try, but I usually end up burning out at some point.
Enter, THE SIT-YOUR-A$$-DOWN PRINCIPAL! Whether in the context of a strict diet, workout regimen, or important work assignment; sometimes taking a break is the best thing you can do to achieve your goal.
I admit it, this general concept is not new. Maybe you've read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? Confession: I have not read the whole book yet, BUT I have read about Habit 7: Sharpening the Saw .
"We must never become too busy sawing to take time to sharpen the saw" - Dr. Stephen R. Covey
Or maybe you've heard of the Bible? That book talks about the concept a bunch as well, for example:
"He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul." -Psalm 23:2
This idea that taking time away from a task to achieve better results spans across time, cultures, and activities. Parts of the Mediterranean and Southern Europe have perfected adult napping and enjoy siestas; the Sabbath - a period of time to rest and rejuvenate - has been an established part of Judaism since the Ten Commandments got handed down; and while research is still being done, studies are showing that high-intensity intermittent exercise (exercise designed with low-intensity or rest recovery periods between intervals of all-out work) has amazing aerobic, anaerobic and metabolic effects on the human body !
Where I trip up is thinking primarily of my vacations as the opportunities to take a break for renewal and refreshment; the big occasional trips that sometimes cause more stress than regular life. Vacations are great, but where we will find the most consistent and beneficial refreshment is in the small moments we step back to breathe and reexamine the bigger picture.
DIET: keep fighting the good right against junk food and don't stop implementing your healthy choices, but once or twice a week, make the choice to enjoy dessert, some buttery pasta or an extra glass of wine. Use the indulgence as a moment to relax and celebrate the amazing healthy choices you make most of the time!
ART: Whether composing, painting, or writing, take intentional moments to distract your brain, disrupt your routine and daydream; it will actually stimulate fresh and exciting ideas ! If instead of going to an audition you need to read a book and sip some coffee so you don't lose your mind, do it every once and awhile! No sense grinding out every audition if you sacrifice your well-being.
EXERCISE: Consistency is important when working out to see results, but if you have been showing up and doing the work for weeks on end, give yourself the permission to confidently take an extra day off. Let your brain and body recover and reflect on how far you've come.
CAREER: Choose one day (or at least a couple hours) each week, to turn off the email notifications on your phone. Activate the auto response with an invitation to call your phone in case of an emergency.
Ultimately, just don't buy into the lie that to achieve, succeed or overcome you must never stop. Wanna really kick some ass and blow some minds? Back it up, pause, and then dive back in!