23 Mar Timeout: Reflect, Recharge and Relax to Improve
I was really surprised, as I had talked about many other points about how to be a good leader, but this one seemed to resonate the most. The question is WHY?
We live in a world where we are so inundated with information, demands, entertainment and pressure, that we literally forget to take a BREAK, or we say we can’t afford to take a break. The truth is, we can’t afford NOT to take a break!
Think about how we look after our cars: we have to put gas in them (or recharge them if we are driving hybrids); we need to check the water, oil, tires, etc … we do our 3,000/10,000 mile maintenance checks; yet when it comes to ourselves, well, we think we can just keep going. We won’t run our cars into the ground, but we will run ourselves into the ground – and that looks like:
High blood pressure
And the list goes on …
Then we start popping all kinds of pills to take make us feel better, take away our migraines, sleep, put us in a good mood, help us lose weight, reduce our cholesterol. We also reduce our creative ability when we keep on going without taking a break or taking time to check out, get away from the electronics and reflect. The multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical and drug market banks on us being workaholics. As human beings, we are not designed to keep working 24/7 and never detaching, we are not built to be on constant sensory overload.
How to take that Time Out:
1) Build in some time every day to be completely quiet – start with 5 minutes to simply breathe and then the next week take ten minutes, build up to it.
2) Get some form of physical exercise that is ENJOYABLE where our minds get a break – for example a walk in nature, a yoga class, Zumba, kickboxing, spinning, hiking – it should not be “work”.
3) Journal – I always carry a journal with me in my work bag and find that after I start writing about what I am doing I am able to problem-solve, even figure out what is “bugging” me; it also helps me put in perspective about what I am grateful for … after I journal I always feel more relaxed and it is literally a cathartic experience for me. I also am able to look back at my life – after 20 plus years of journaling, and see how I have developed as a human being; it is “my story”.
4) Meditate/pray – The simplest form of meditation is to just breathe – take 5 minutes a day to do some deep breathing can radically change our state and get some much-needed oxygen to our cells. Some of the happiest and most centered people I have had the honor of knowing in my life are those who have faith and pray – it doesn’t have to be within an organized religion. When we are spiritual and have some kind of belief in a higher power, it seems to work to create greater joy and elevate awareness and consciousness.
5) Travel – I can’t say enough about the value of travel as a way to take a time out, reflect, enhance creativity and recharge. When we travel, we are “hyper-aware”, more open and are far more willing to step out of our “comfort zones” in order to soak up the experience and to get our needs met. I just had the privilege of working in Costa Rica and then taking a time out after the conference where I spoke, to go to a beautiful area by the Arenal Volcano, called Tabacon. I debated quite a bit with myself about whether I wanted to take the time and spend the money on my overnight excursion, when I could have just gone home to San Diego. I decided to practice what I preach and do the overnight …
I found myself in the most beautiful rainforest, immersing my tired, aching body in incredible mineral hot springs from the volcano, and thinking to myself, “How lucky I am to be in such a beautiful place, where I get to truly relax and nurture my soul, mind and body.” I was also feeling so grateful to experience a part of the world that I didn’t know much about. I also met a lovely couple on the ride back to San Jose – 3 hours in a shuttle bus can evoke some good conversation! I feel inspired to learn more about Costa Rica and the rest of Central America, improve my Spanish and develop myself as a human being even further … yes, this was way out of my comfort zone. In the past, I always traveled to North America, Europe, South Africa, Israel and now I have this whole new world to explore. As I explore that section of the globe, I get to push myself and see how much I can still soak up even though I am considered “middle aged!”
For those Mad Men fans, in the final episode, Don Draper, traveled across the United States to California and found his true self. The result of his time out and reflection was enhanced creativity, a newfound self and purpose in life! I urge you to carve out that time for yourself to relax, reflect and recharge to find your true self and inner-purpose … it is not a selfish thing, just like it is not selfish to put the oxygen mask on yourself first on an airplane if there is a loss of pressure – what good are we to our children or anyone if we are running on fumes with no oxygen?
Think about this and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments!