The overall message from amazing people in various industries is: Work harder. Work more. Hustle. Grind. Put in the work. Be patient. Don’t stop. Things take their time.
Do you agree with them? I do. I share this mindset and I believe that the majority of people need to hear this kind of motivation and need to get this initial push to start working on their dreams. But it is “just” the majority. What about the rest? Who is the rest?
The people who rather feel guilty for taking time off than having a hard time getting off the couch. People who don’t complain about things getting hard, challenging and exhausting. People who know that whatever goal they set, they will achieve it with the patience, work, passion and resilience needed. People who don’t complain about the work. People who decide to go on vacation, laying on the beach in paradise and feel completely stressed out and guilty for even being here instead of working.
Again, the majority of people can’t relate to this. Most people go to the beach or go on a hike and simply enjoy their free time. Just to make things clear, neither one is good or bad. Those are just two different kind of personalities and one of them applies to the majority of people. This is why so many great leaders, entrepreneurs or thought leaders of any industry preach to put in the work, to don’t stop, to keep working harder. They do that because this is what so many people need to hear.
But what about the others? What happens if a person who is already working a lot, and has a hard time relaxing, is constantly exposed to messages that tell them to work harder?
I can speak from my own experience and the experience of my closest circle of people around me who are like this as well, and maybe you can relate with us as well as you are reading this. Even when we know that we work hard and work a lot, even when we know that we do everything we possibly can, we constantly keep hearing this voice that tells us that it is not enough. Laying on the beach – maybe absolutely earned – can be torture for us. Because all of a sudden this small voice has the chance to get louder and it feels as if the voice has a point. We could finish this project, we could do this and that instead of sitting here with our partner or family. We could do something “real” instead of recovering. Did we already earn to take time off? And all of a sudden we give in to our mind and the conditioning that tells us that we haven’t been working enough and that, if we really want to succeed, we need to work harder and not take time off.
Looking back at the past 10 to 15 years, many of the many successful people shared their story which includes working through nights, without sleeping a lot, without eating properly, not contacting family and friends – because their key to success was spending as much time as possible working. And they built something. They are successful. But are they?
If we look at the immensely increased diseases like diabetes, depression, burnout or heart diseases in the last 10 to 15 years and consider the latest research around those diseases, we need to rethink the way we succeed. Those diseases can have many different reasons but the latest science shows that they are extremely related to our lifestyle choices. Which include the way we eat, the way we move our bodies, exercising, the way we take care of our physical and mental health. The way we create our everyday life.
The perspective on how successful people live, finally changes.
Self-care becomes more and more popular and we start to rethink the priority of work or the interdependence of work and self-care. We now know that taking care of ourselves has the highest priority. Because when we feel good, we work good. When we feel good, we are good partners, siblings, parents, colleagues, bosses – we are good people. Life doesn’t become better or happier when we finally succeed in our professional life. When we are happy, when we know what we are passionate about, we do a great job. We can achieve things we couldn’t imagine before.
We know that by now, don’t we? I do. I am convinced of this and I have been working on my self-care routines for years. And I can proudly say that I have come a long way from not taking any vacation or vacation where I would constantly work on my phone or laptop. I now know, that we not only have to physically rest but we need to rest mentally. I learned resting is equally important, as working. Nothing is more or less important, they are a team that need to be in balance. I also learned that this looks different for each person. We can’t express it with time. We can’t say we need to rest 50% of the time and work the other 50%. We can’t name certain methods that work for everyone. The way we balance work and rest, is unique to each and every one of us.
The most important thing I learned though, is that whatever we chose to do, we need to do it as mindfully as we can. We need to be as present as we can, in order to get the best results. When I work, I work. I give it all. I am as focused as I can be and I don’t mind what day or time it is. When I rest it is the same. I fully embrace whatever I do. And this is the only “formula” there is: Whatever you do, do it mindfully.
This means stop being guilty for taking time off, while everyone seems to work still. Stop feeling guilty for doing what feels good. Stop feeling guilty for taking care of yourself. Stop feeling guilty for taking a step back. Let go of this programming. I know this can be hard. Because maybe you already know all of this but you still find yourself doubting if it is already time to take a step back. This is normal while you are transitioning from the old thought pattern to a new one. It takes some time until you taught your mind that being on vacation, contributes to your professional as well as to your overall success. I assume it took people some time to really believe that the world is actually a round and not flat. We need to get used to things, and we will, it just takes time and consistency. Your mind is smart. It can make you believe everything it tells you, when you are not making an effort to evaluate carefully if this is your belief or if this is an old conditioning, an old thought patterns.
Change is the only constant in life.
We won’t always be at our best. We can’t always have just fabulous days. There are times where you work more and there are times where you rest more. Life goes through cycles, like the moon. Full moon is not better or worse than new moon. They are both part of a process of a cycle, equally important and serve their own purpose.
Sometimes we don’t feel like working so much. We need more sleep. We need more creative activities that have nothing to do with our work. Sometimes we need to eat more, sometimes less. Sometimes we need to work out more, sometimes less. Everything within us and around us undergoes change. It is just normal. It is necessary.
During these times of rest, we gain energy and recover. We fill up, so that we are ready for another season of hard work, great ideas, overcoming challenges and crushing it.
Being aware of those natural cycles of life, is already the first and maybe most important step towards mastering the ups and downs of life. Because we don’t judge them, we don’t categorize them into good or bad, we just acknowledge their existence and go with it. We make the best out of every part of the cycle.
As much as I appreciate all the great minds who share their perspective on working more and more, we need to hear something else. People like us, we need to hear: It is ok to rest. It is not only ok, it is necessary. We know you work hard. Go and rest, so you can get back to work, maybe even stronger.