As I transition out of corporate/structured work and into Entrepreneur life, I am battling some big emotional upsets. My sense of self and my balance/peace/validation are being tested over and over again. I am redefining my life, and it is scary. Questions plage me all day, like when should I work? How many hours should I work? And when is it okay to take a second to breathe? This thought process is making me less productive as a result. As an entrepreneur, there are always a million tasks left undone, a million things you could be doing. That is part of the beauty and allure of being your own boss but is also a part of why so many people who set out on their own path do not make it. If we are not careful, it is a fast track to burn out. Finding that balance of input to payout that works for you is so important, whether you work for yourself or not. In fact, finding that balance and striving for it each and every day may be the most vital thing you do for your overall health and your ability to sustain.
So often we go hard. We use the hashtags #crushingit, #hustle, and #norestforthewicked. We pride ourselves on grinding it out and putting in work. We never stop, we never slow down, we slide into bed just a second before extreme exhaustion closes our eyes, often with the help of an alcoholic drink or two. We place high priority and value on being so busy that we cannot stop and think. The truth is that for most of us, the busyness and hustle is the distraction from our own thoughts that we crave. We have created a world and a lifestyle in which we are not comfortable with our own inner thoughts. We have stuffed them down so many times that we are afraid to address them, kind of like turning the wheel handle of a jack-in-the-box. What will jump out at us if we do? Will we know how to handle it? We crave meaningful experiences that make us feel emotions deeply, yet we never allow ourselves to honestly process these emotions. The result is a blunted, exhausted, wasteful existence that looks great on social media. Are you with me on this? It’s the entrepreneur’s trap. You put all that work in, but for what? What is your purpose, and are you still living that purpose?
What is the answer?
Rest. Rest is the answer. But not in the way you might think. We are talking about intentional downtime. Structured, scheduled, focused rest. This is not the numb-your-brain-with-a-distraction kind of rest. Turn off Netflix, put down the controller, close your social media web browser, and just connect with the only person who can show you peace, yourself. This does not even sound easy, and it is much harder than it sounds.
How to achieve Active Intentional Rest
I suggest building this into your routine, if you don’t, you will get here in a much more difficult way as you crash and burn over and over again. Instead, take one day out of your week and give yourself permission to retreat into your mind for at least 30 minutes. Everyone will have a different way of achieving active, intentional rest, the only hard rule is that you do something reflective. Journal, write a poem, listen to music, do a light exercise like yoga or hiking, or do nothing at all as you meditate. Allow any emotions that come up to pass as you just observe and breathe. Actively release judgments on any emotion you observe. Refrain from being prescriptive on what you should or must do next. Consider this your weekly brain break and emotional check-in and learn to connect deeply with yourself.
Regular Active Intentional Rest not only will help you find balance, but it will also improve your relationship with happiness. Happiness is a headspace; it’s not a person, place or a thing. You can try to recreate happiness by adding the person that makes you happiest or the thing that you get the most joy out of in your most favorite places, but it doesn’t always work that way. Happiness comes when you have enough band-with to process true happiness instead of covering unhappiness with busywork. When you are free to feel the balance of emotions regularly when you have allowed yourself enough active and intentional down time to process.
Not sure how to start an Active Intentional Rest session, try these tips:
1. Pick a quiet place where you will not be interrupted
2. Decide ahead of time what you will do during this time and prepare for that
3. Start your session with intuition or a mantra, try this one from Marcus Aurelius: Remember: Matter. How tiny your share of it. Time. How brief and fleeting your allotment of it. Fate. How small a role you play in it.
4. Careful not to allow your Active Intentional Rest activities to become another distraction session