Stop “chasing mountains”.

In the past, when I was addicted to accomplishing at all costs, I had so many days in my office where I was simply going through the motions of accomplishing, but making errors and messes that I’d have to clean up later. I was too tired to undertake anything important or creative, so I attempted to complete simple tasks or respond to others’ tedious requests. If I endure too long, the result is a waste of time and bigger mistakes.  

When I would engage in an important conversation in an exhausted state, I would come from fatigue and frustration instead of my heart. When I did this, I did not build the rapport or make the connections or the sale that I had hoped for. These forced moments in business cost me money, blocked collaborations, diminished my health, and bruised relationships.    

I recall many days in the late afternoon, after an incredibly productive day, when I felt drained but continued to push myself with more working. And what happened? Not much, at least not much of great worth. And in some cases, I endured a backache or some other physical pain from sitting too long.

I kept going, striving to complete the next accomplishment and then the next, which I call ‘chasing mountains.’  I worked the hard way because I had a belief that success was a difficult path. So, I ran after the next big idea, the next commission bonus, and the next potential business opportunity. I habitually looked for a bigger mountain to climb, business to create, client to acquire…. I drove myself to exhaustion with willpower – personal willpower that is – not divine willpower. I drove myself crazy with fatigue and drove others away.

In time and with my health at stake, I learned to stop driving so hard and to change my style.

I decided to do only what was mine to do. Wisely, I started letting something greater – my purpose and my inspiration – drive choices and commitments. I said no more often.  And yes, but only if I meant it.

There is a difference between pushing to accomplish and allowing your work to flourish. Stopping the pattern of doing, doing, doing requires discipline and patience. It may be provoked by a health challenge or relationship upset. I suggest switching to the pace of grace before trauma strikes.

When I started to practice self-renewal activities, my life and work changed. This was a giant habit I overcame. And when I’m not conscious, it creeps back up on me. I get into “get it done yesterday mode.”  Thank goodness, I have my own conscience, but also friends and a husband who notices and warns me before I fall into the trap of doing again.

In this maturity, I like to step back from over-ambitious goals and create realistic, heartfelt goals.

They bring me greater joy and usually offer time to rest and play. I meet my progress with patience, enjoying each moment, as well as the little steps. The other benefits? I bring a greater overall perspective to my work. I dance in a creative flow while finishing my tasks. People enjoy working with me more than they used too. And I feel 100 times better at the end of the day!

Now, let’s get smart with our self-care. If I am tired at four o’clock (or whatever the time), I stop and find something healthy to do. A walk, stretching, a workout, a phone call, a meditation or reading a book are some of my favorites. I choose an activity to renew myself. Then I get a good night’s sleep, wake up fresh and ‘rock it’ the next day, accomplishing more than imagined from my renewed and inspired state. In short order, the work flows, the projects come easy … the communications are timely and the deep concentrated work builds momentum. This is what inspiration can do when our physical and mental states allow it.

Time changes and bends to adapt.

I call this powerful and aligned work technique “the ultimate leverage in business” because we are at the right place in the right time and synchronicity is abundant when we feel good. Ideas flow. People around us feel the magic and add to the energy. Self-renewal proceeds and ensures this leverage. We must recover to discover what is new and next.

I’m not the only one who recognizes how important personal care is to business success or any creative endeavor, including maintaining healthy relationships. Many believe and practice it. Richard Branson, the famous entrepreneur and owner of Virgin Airlines, states, “I have always made my health and wellness a priority. When I’m asked: ‘what’s the key to success in business’ my answer can differ depending on the subject at hand – delegation, people, learning from failure, etc. – but when it comes down to it, the key is you. The simple fact is, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of business.”

“Stop worrying. And get a good night’s sleep.”

That is what Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post would tell her younger self if she could. Huffington advises teens to do the same thing she advises adults: “Get seven to nine hours sleep a night.” She authored Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, which highlights her story from a personal health crisis to thriving. With sincere care, she warns others and councils prevention through rest and sleep.

Even the Dalai Lama agrees: “. . . if you feel burnout setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is the best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.”

I recently heard that the Dali Lama takes days off from “the world.” Do you? We must practice unplugging ourselves from the constant doing and relax into who we be.