Even around the holidays "rest and recovery" can be dirty words. The "R Words" if you will. Like many of us, I took on a lot this past year, launching a business and finishing my book, while maintaining my full time job and raising a family. Ironically, all this “busyness” has forced me to learn about taking breaks.
These days, I'm a regular reader of A Course in Miracles, and one of my all time favorite quotes is, "The result of genuine devotion is inspiration, a word which properly understood is the opposite of fatigue." Oh my goodness. That one went right over my head for a long time. And yet it's so obvious.
You can't be inspired when you're fatigued. Plus, if it says that in A Course in Miracles it must be true. ;) So I went out on a limb and gave it a try. I relaxed. The results knocked my socks off. Here's what I learned:
1. Work Smarter Not Harder
There was a time when this phrase actually frightened me. I'm so good at working hard that I didn't want to stop long enough to think. This year, when I stopped to take a break, I realized I was running at top speed in the wrong direction. If we never step back, our To Do List becomes automated drudgery. Especially in writing and creativity, it's important to stop and reflect, otherwise how will you know if all that work is actually serving the project?
2. Take Creative Leaps
Creative breakthroughs don’t come from pushing yourself to the brink, they come from the time, space and wonderment. Gabriel Garcia Marquez said his favourite place to write was a hammock. Don't I know it. The fact is that your most creative ideas do NOT come from the daily grind. They come from making non-linear connections when you escape a little. That’s why your big creative leaps happen when you're relaxing, not working.
3. Connect with Your Why
You know you've gone to far when you lose passion for your passion project. After all, once upon a time, you started writing because of something you loved. In my case, I created this blog, book and business because I love writing, and I love my son. But oh Lord, you wouldn't know that during launch season. Being weighed down by responsibilities distanced me from the reasons I ever started this work. Thus recovery gave me time and space to connect back to where it all began. My heart.
4. Carry Zero Resentment
Of course connecting back to your why helps you move forward without any resentment. This is especially important when trouble comes. If you've piled up any resentment and you run into a rough patch, it can break you. I realized this recently when my family took a financial hit. If I'd been working myself to death with my blog and book, I would have broken down. However because I slowed down, I had the emotional resources to create a better plan and recover the loss. Trouble became inspiration for greater progress. It's funny, but in this case financial recovery came from under-working rather than overworking.
5. Prevent Burnout
In the long run, this is what keeps your passion project vital. That last example related to blogging and business writing, but this is especially true for novels as well. If you don't take time for recovery, you'll burn out on characters, rejection and even the smell of coffee or the glow of your own computer screen. Both in writing and romance, distance makes the heart grow fonder.
Long story short, this recent recovery has once again taught me what I always knew to be true: slow down to speed up. I say that a quite a bit, but we all need the reminder.
I still feel guilty for taking my time and resting. But I also know that A Course in Miracles has taught me a lot about guilt. It says that whenever you feel guilt, it’s a sign you’ve separated from your source. The source of inspiration. That’s how I know, it is time to slow down and find inspiration where I left it, before I go speeding off into the horizon again.