Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… including you. ~ Anne Lamott
If you own a smart phone, tablet, laptop or similar electronic device then you are familiar with the fact these devices tend to ‘freeze’ from time to time. Thankfully, 99% of these issues can be fixed when you unplug and switch off the device. Effectively once something has been unplugged and restarted it works again like new.
Very few of us ever to stop to consider the fact that we are no different. The currency with which our brain and nervous system operates is no different to the ‘electronic devices’ we use i.e. electricity. In fact our brain is perhaps the most advanced electronic switching station that we know of. Given the complexity of our being relative to the simplicity of a regular electronic device, don’t you think that we too need to unplug every now and then?
The thing is we seldom recognize the symptoms that require us to ‘unplug’. If a phone freezes and the buttons don’t respond, then we realize we need to restart it. However if we are feeling tired, stressed or even burned out we tend to force ourselves to keep on going.
If a warning light goes off in the dashboard of your car, I’m sure you don’t get a screw driver and knock it out of the dashboard. Likewise I’m sure you don’t get a bandage and stick it over a light that indicates you are running low on fuel. If you did that then the car is going to run out, regardless whether you accept it or now. Yet most people do these very things to themselves. They are aware that the warning lights are on. They are experiencing symptoms of burnout, stress, or malaise. Yet they tend to ignore these symptoms, hoping that they will eventually go away. Effectively nothing goes away unless you take corrective action.
Life is not easy. We all face challenges. We all have responsibilities. We all have so many things to do, and not enough time to do them all. All of these things combine to make us feel overwhelmed. Overwhelm generates stress, worry and discontent. We feel like we are running flat out just to maintain our position. It’s as if no matter how hard we work, or how much effort we expend, we are not making any forward progress. Sometimes it’s good to step back from the situation, and realize a couple of things.
Firstly there is a limit to what you can do. You are somewhat confined by your personal resources. There is a limit to your time, money and energy. And while you can find ways to become more efficient with your time, more frugal with your money and more effective with your energy, there are still limits to what you can do. In this regard it’s SMART to realize that ‘all you can is all you can do and all you can do is enough. Just make sure you do all you can do’.
Secondly, it’s imperative that you realize every worthwhile goal has an ‘incubation’ period. You can’t just click your fingers and the goal you want magically materializes. Many goals take a long period of sustained effort before they materialize. You need to be patient, continue to work toward your goal, but do it at a pace that is sustainable. Acknowledge your successes however small they may be, because it is these little successes that fuel your motivation. Perhaps this concept is best illustrated when you consider the ‘bamboo’ tree. The bamboo tree is a remarkable plant. If it’s not looked after really well, then it won’t survive. If it’s extremely well cared for then after one year it will grow 2 inches, if it continues to be very well cared for, then after year 2 it will grow a further 2 inches, after year 3 a further 2 inches, after year 4 a further 2 inches. Then in the fifth year of being very well cared for it grows 80 feet.
Likewise you might be expending a tremendous amount of energy right now as you work towards your goal, yet you might not be getting results commensurate with the effort. Realize if you keep on going, if you keep on keeping on, that you can experience success all of a sudden, out of the blue, just like that bamboo.
Finally, you have got to build downtime into your schedule. Most people take the view that sleep time is down time, but that’s not true. You need to schedule some down time that involves doing activities that induce a state of rest, relaxation and mental renewal. Everyone is different. Only you know what induces that state in you. For some it might be a walk in nature, for others it’s reading, for others it might be a round of golf or some crochet. No matter what it is schedule it in your calendar and treat it as important as you would any other appointment.
Do these things and you will fan the flames of your motivation, maintain high energy levels, and continue to march toward your goals with a persistence and a resilience that will take you all the way.
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