Breathe in, breathe out. Work hard, rest easy. Our world consists of many opposites that together form a whole.
This simple truth is often lost on people who seek to maximize their productivity and success. But they’re making a big mistake, because your work and your life are more like a marathon than a sprint, and if you continuously go full throttle you’ll end up with worse results than if you manage your efforts more sensibly and judiciously.
To that end, here are some suggestions on how to recharge your energy after a bout of intensive effort, the better to prepare yourself for the next task, project, or goal that will make heavy demands on your skills, talents, knowledge and experience:
When you’ve finished a round of hard work, set the table for recharging your energy by engaging in enjoyable play.
These activities are, of course, different for different people, but they often involve:
- A different wardrobe: casual, comfortable clothes you enjoy wearing will help your subconscious mind recognize you’re “off duty” and set up for recharging rather than working.
- A different location: our minds naturally associate certain locations with specific activities. For this reason, you will probably recharge faster and more completely if you stay away from your place of work and gravitate toward your “happy place” – mentally if not physically.
- Grab a relaxing meal: for a variety of reasons, meals are important events that help us think and feel differently. When you’re gearing up to recharge, eat foods you enjoy in the company of people with whom you frequently relax – or eat alone, if you prefer.
- Spend time with very special people: your significant other, your kids, your family, close friends, or whomever. For the same reason, stay away from people your mind associates with work.
During your working hours, your brain is often in gear and actively directed toward creative, effective, or purposeful ends. When you’re recharging, on the other hand, you want to release these constraints and allow your thoughts to roam free.
This might involve thinking about something you enjoy, for instance: a hobby, a recent experience, or a story you like. You may even want to simply relax and think about nothing for a while.
Some of us have a hard time thinking without constraints or “shutting off” our brain. That’s fine, too, so long as you don’t consciously turn your thoughts toward work-related matters.
For example, you might want to direct your brain-power toward solving puzzles or working on “brain teasers.” It’s variety that counts. Just as physical exercise produces better results when you use lots of different muscle groups in lots of different ways, recharging your energy usually works better when you use different parts of your intelligence in ways unrelated to your primary working patterns.
Much of the time, working on tasks, projects, or goals focuses our thinking on tactical matters: how do we solve this problem or make progress in that direction.
Unfortunately, this necessarily steals time from the longer-term thinking and reflection that’s nearly always so important for increasing our level of productivity and success.
If this feels true for you, then one good way to recharge would be to temporarily neglect the tactical and switch your thinking toward higher level strategic matters, such as:
- How is my career going? How well have I done so far? How can I make it go better?
- How complete is my portfolio of skills, knowledge, and experience? How can I beef it up even more?
- What assets and allies do I have at my disposal? How can I gain closer, more reliable access to even more valuable assets and allies?
- How conducive is my current situation to my future productivity and success? How can I transition into a more conducive situation?
Most of us do better when we develop and recognize some meaning in our work and our lives. But all too often, we unconsciously fall into whatever meaning crops up on its own. Fortunately, you can recharge your energy more rapidly and effectively by consciously reshaping your life to include more of the elements you consider meaningful.
- What are you striving to accomplish? When you reach that goal, how much satisfaction will you experience from the fruits of your efforts? Can you identify other goals that will deliver more satisfaction?
- Who benefits from your accomplishments? How can you change direction to bring more benefit to more of the people you care about?
- Where do you stand in terms of “higher” levels of reality: spirituality, values, human potential, morality, and so forth? Are you OK with your current stand on these matters? Can you make changes that will bring more meaning to your work and your life?
Of course, this kind of strategic reshaping won’t happen quickly or easily. But every step you make in this direction will change your life for the better, and will give you more energy for working to increase your level of productivity, success, and satisfaction.
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