You want to change the world, so you work long, tireless hours, your mind never shuts off, and your body never rests. It feels as if your life were burning on both ends of the candlestick, but you can't seem to let yourself stop.
I used to live that way, too. The idea of taking a break or resting was unimaginable. And the few evenings when I attempted to unwind and enjoy some free time, all I did was feel guilty about stepping away. I'd wind up returning to work later into the night than usual.
Was it healthy? No. Was I more productive? Not necessarily.
Here's the truth. If you want to actually impart change, drive your mission forward, and grow your business, then creating space and stillness in your life must be non-negotiable. To do so requires a mindset shift away from thinking breaks are bad. To turn downtime into a valuable asset, I started to do the following three actions.
Schedule your downtime.
Most people think taking breaks is spontaneous, but the best way to stop is to plan accordingly. When nighttime comes around, your circadian rhythm and body know without consciously thinking that it is time to sleep. You are training your body and mind to anticipate shutting down. You can impart this same level of shift within your daily or weekly schedule.
Create a routine for your rest. Whether it is a block of time in the morning, a day during the week, or a few minutes throughout the day, plan time to take a break and stick to it. Every Wednesday and Sunday, for example, I have blocked off time specifically for relaxation and reflection. This has become a non-negotiable in my life in order to instill the habit within my mind and the cycle within my body to unwind. Taking downtime becomes a habit, similar to that of checking email.
Participate in reflection.
The thoughts and ideas that flow through your mind are how you raise your value as a leader. So use moments of pause to bolster your brain's ability to think stronger and faster.
Take space to allow yourself to think. Focus on an aspect of business that you want to improve. Think about where you want to be and whether you are on the fastest path to get there.
In our society, we have become accustomed to constantly being stimulated and entertained. As a result, we must actively block time to find stillness, and allow these moments of perceived boredom to spark inner dreams and allow creativity to flourish. During this time, hold no judgment of the ideas you come up with.
You don't need to work 12 grueling hours each day. You need one moment of insight.
Take care of your body.
Some of the biggest deterrents to actual wealth creation and success are not resources, investors, or a strong supply chain; it is your personal health. If you are energized, you are more likely to act and be bold when you experience fear or moments of opportunity. If you have taken care of yourself, you can more easily show up to connect with and support your employees, partners, and customers.
You are the leader within your organization. If something happens to you, everything is compromised. You must take care of yourself as if you are going to be around for a while. During your moments of space, create a wellness routine, navigate your fitness schedule and give your body, mind, and spirit what it needs most. Some days, this looks like hitting the gym really hard, and other days, it consists of meditating, getting a massage, or reading a book.
Health is a resource that you can always provide to yourself.
Creating space for downtime in your life is necessary. After all, the entrepreneur road isn't an end goal, it is a way of life. If you want to enjoy it for the long term, you must be willing to pause, reflect and rejuvenate. It might just land you farther forward than those late nights at the office ever could.