The Value of Relaxation
In my early twenties, I had an unrelenting drive to work and accomplish things. Every minute spent watching television, hanging out with friends or playing video games was a minute I wan’t being paid for. I wanted more money to save, more money to spend, and more money to pay off my debts and to try and get myself ahead financially for the next couple of years. I learned early on that money doesn’t just appear and cheques don’t just magically end up in your mailbox. I learned that you have to work hard for it, sometimes doing jobs that you don’t necessarily enjoy. It was a fact of life and a reality that I fully embraced. I was motivated to make money and I loathed wasting time.
Today, that drive still exists. Every day I wake up, I’m ready and motivated to tackle the day and see what I can accomplish. I go to my job five days a week with a drive to change things, to make them better and to do the best job that I can. I still despise wasting time and when I do get some time for myself, I try to make it as valuable as possible by working towards my personal goals.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the realization that working all the time and constantly driving myself to do better, to make more money and to conquer my goals may not actually make me as productive as I had previously thought. Here’s why:
Immersing yourself in a world of constant demands and goals creates an acquired tolerance and an altered sense of reality. Your focus becomes so narrow and so singularly driven that your vision of everything around you becomes clouded. You have a hard time seeing the world objectively because your mind and actions are immersed in your own world with a single purpose.
Lets use school as an example: When you go to University you are studying for a career. You attend courses, write exams, perform your lab work etc. Your singular purpose is to do good on your course work so that you can pass the course and get one step closer to graduating with your degree or diploma. But that in itself is the problem that most students have. Their focus is so narrow (which is to pass their courses) that they have forgotten why they are in these courses in the first place. The knowledge they acquire is much less useful because they’ve forgotten how to apply it to their end goal – their career! I’ve known so many students who have graduated with their degree and gotten jobs in their fields thinking that they are prepped and ready, only to find out that they really don’t know anything.
That’s not to say that living with this kind of focus is a terrible way of life. On the contrary, many of the most successful people in the world utilize this way of thinking to push themselves to greatness. Their drive and focus are so intense that their entire world revolves around what they wish to accomplish. They know the risks and have sacrificed for that kind of a lifestyle. But it’s so important that you don’t forget the reasons why you are pushing yourself. You need to remain centred and conscious of what’s really important. After all, spending all of your time working towards something really doesn’t mean much if you have to sacrifice everything along the way. Finding that balance – that equilibrium – with how you utilize your time is so important.
My character will always be one that doesn’t like to spend time on frivolous pursuits. But as I’ve gotten older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve learned that there can be great value in doing things that are outside of your focus. Things that can be motivating, inspiring or things that can bring a fresh set of ideas and creativity to the table.
There is so much value in things like taking a vacation to clear your mind. Going out for dinner with some friends. Spending time with your family and relatives. Going for a walk alone in the park. Going camping for a weekend. Taking your dog for a walk. Watching a funny or inspiring movie. Taking your spouse out for a date night. It can literally be anything that will help you live in the moment and take your mind off of work for a while.
Despite what most books about success will have you believe, there is more to life than just working and making money. Success is also about enjoying life and taking the time to relax, to pamper yourself and to experience all sorts of different emotions and experiences. Even though it might seem like an atrocity to take time away from work and your goals, changing your focus for a little while can be extremely invigorating and can do wonders to refresh your outlook.
When your brain is racing with a thousand thoughts per second, just remember where you are and center yourself in the moment. Mindfulness can be a valuable tool. Relax, take things slow and clear your mind of everything. When you are ready to get back in the thick of things, you’ll be more energized and motivated then ever before and you’ll have a new perspective on things.
Granted, I may still be one of those driven people with a very centered focus, but I can tell you from experience that it’s important to give your brain a rest every once in a while. In spite of my work ethic, I always try to keep in touch with what’s really important in my life – family – friends – new experiences – and take time for myself every once in a while.
Once you’ve found that optimal balance point between work and rest, you’ll accomplish so much more than just focusing on work alone.
So I wish you the best of luck on all of your goals. Here’s to work, productivity and some extremely valuable rest and relaxation.