In my business I work with a lot of “type A,” overachievers who are obsessed with production.
These people are driven by a mission and often a fear of failure.
Sometimes this type goes as far to feel guilty about every second they aren’t being “productive” – generating revenue, knocking items off their to-do lists, or otherwise tangibly making effort at accomplishing their goals.
I was recently on a call with one of these clients who had just crashed after months of constantly grinding and spent a week mostly resting, recuperating, and enjoying things like Netflix. Being a hard working guy, he felt guilty for taking time to breathe after getting some big wins in his new entrepreneurial career.
I asked him a simple question:
“If you did pushups all the time, how strong would you get?”
He answered quickly.
“You’d get super jacked!”
So I asked again.
“If you keep doing pushups and never stop, how much muscle will you build?”
Slightly confused, he answered.
“You’d build a ton of muscle.”
I eventually gave him the answer.
“You’d build 0 muscle if you never stopped doing pushups. You would make absolutely no progress.”
I’ve had versions of this conversation over and over with many different, amazing people. Most either don’t know, or completely forget, that you build 0 muscle when you are working out. In fact, you are doing the opposite – you’re breaking down your muscles.
Your muscles are built when you rest.
In that regard, rest isn’t a break from making progress. It’s an essential part of making progress. Without it, nothing happens except for breakdown and eventual failure.
Whether it is physical exercise or mental exercise, you simply won’t get any better at anything if you don’t step away from it and rest.
Going deeper into the pushup analogy, if you decide to do pushups forever your muscles will eventually fail and make you rest. You will be flat on your stomach simply unable to move your body up. This is the same with mental work. If you focus on one thing with your mind forever your brain will eventually get worse and fail. Basic things you would normally know you lose the ability to recall as if it is lost somewhere in your brain and you can’t find it.
Think about a time when you tried to remember song lyrics that you’ve sung a thousand times and simply couldn’t. You think and you think and you think and it is just gone. You press harder in your brain to remember that dang song and the harder you push, the further away the lyrics get.
We’ve all been there, and we are all forced to give up and forget. Then an hour or a day later you step into the shower and like a lightning bolt in your mind you remember the exact lyric you’ve forgotten the second you let your brain idle.
Again, your brain is complex and stepping away from something is often the best way to find the answer.
As the grind culture persists and grows in popularity, keep in mind the essential need to step away from your tasks every so often.
Companies like Google are both lauded and laughed at for their nap pods, on-staff masseuses and game rooms, but they’re not doing this because they are benevolent or goofy, they’re doing it because they are shrewd business people who understand that making it easy for their staff to rest and relax actually makes them more productive and makes them more money.
Today, take a moment to journal about rest and its role in your life. How do you rest? Are you resting frequently enough? When was the last time you felt energized and like a force of nature that couldn’t be stopped? What “rest” do you want in your life more and how can you make that happen?
Your life coach.
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