Have you found yourself wishing there was more time? Time to do the things you know you need to do? When is the last time you took a moment to really rest? And no, I’m not talking about when you rested because you got sick and had to go to bed for a day.
There is always more work to do than there is time to do it in. Pressures mount from all sides. Sometimes our fear of looking bad, letting someone down, and not being seen as a team player keeps us running on fumes rather than recovering. We never turn off, whether our minds, our phones, or our email. It is a natural response to more coming at us. We start losing sleep, drinking more caffeine, eating sugary foods or skipping meals altogether. We cram more into the schedule and do absolutely nothing for recovery.
The question is how to “find the time” to recover. You don’t. You make the time.
You make it a priority. It’s the only way. This is a somewhat difficult thing to accept for me (and maybe you too), but here’s how it works: we make time for what really matters. We just do. If you aren’t “finding the time” to do what you need to do, whatever you are answering to (a boss, a client, your ego) is more important to you than the thing you are not doing. You are stuck in a competing commitment, and the one that is winning is your priority.
Today is my “off day” from skiing. While still early in the season, I’ve been going at it hard. This is a deliberate day off, notwithstanding the beautiful, warm water and holiday. (I’m writing this on Memorial Day 2017 – thank you to those who offered the ultimate sacrifice!)
This was a super difficult thing for me today. See, water skiing is addictive (in a good way) and taking any day off to recover means I don’t get the thrill and the adrenaline rush.
Yet recovery is absolutely necessary if I am to last the season or just ski better later in the week. Whether my mind is burned out or not (it’s not), my body is. Skiing is an intense sport. Unless I follow the principle of oscillation, my body will enter a performance decline curve and then I will start practicing skiing tired, which will lead to bad form, which will lead to worse skiing, which will possibly lead to injury and much less skiing. So I rest in order to keep going, even though right this minute, I want to go ski.. If you work out and you don’t change the muscle groups your working on, your muscles plateau and it makes it really hard to continue getting stronger.
The same applies to any endeavor. When I go hard without recovery, my decisions start slipping, my mind gets foggy, I work tired, make unnecessary mistakes, and things slip through the cracks. More importantly, my inner world becomes more chaotic, making my external world more testy. Relationships suffer and eventually I will get sick. All because I was unwilling to follow some simple recovery practices. (And maybe because I think I’m superhuman?)
Nope, it’s because I’m stuck in that competing commitment that puts something “out there” in front of what really matters.
This has been an excruciating lesson for me to learn.
It removes my excuses and forces me to face myself and my convoluted logic. I hate it.
Yet I have found that anytime I am not doing what I “should be doing” or I can’t “find the time”, it’s because I’m stuck in a competing commitment, and my actions are showing me what matters most.
So today, I decided that recovery mattered more than the thrill of skiing.
This is a principle I work with my clients with as well. Even the busiest people can stop once an hour and take a few deep breaths. They can do some muscle tensing and relaxing, which is surprisingly effective. Teams doing massive projects stop for recovery and check in every six to eight weeks – and discover that recovery allows you to “go slow to go fast.
We cannot perform at the highest levels if we are always on. We have to know how to turn it off in order to turn it on.
Over the years, I’ve come to see recovery as one of the most important elements to performing at high levels. When I deliberately manage my energy – through how I manage my body, mind, emotion and spirit –I can do more and I’m less likely to collapse into a heap of human Jello at the end of the day.
What do you do to recover? What are the most productive practices that you have found to help you bounce back after setbacks or major energy expenditures?
As always, I would love to learn from you in the comments!
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You started with a spark, shooting a small column of smoke surrounded by the driest forest. Right on the edge of a cliff, you danced and waved as the calls started pouring in. The helicopter was upon you within hours, yet you carried on. Boats lined up for the show, filled with people wondering how anyone could stop you. Little did we know that you were just beginning your march across the mountain.
And little did we know that you would burn so much into – and out of -- the heart of this community.
As you raged across the mountain, we witnessed your beautiful, frightening flames in stark contrast to the dark night. We could envision the aftermath to come, the scorched earth and blackened timbers. Smoke filled days reminded us that you were so near and yet so far. We began to grow slightly used to you, like you were the sleeping dog in the corner of the room.
Then your sister the wind arrived to feed the beast and suddenly all hell broke loose. Your fury threatened to consume everything in your path and you engorged your bottomless appetite for air and fuel. As you jumped every containment line, home was no longer a haven but a trap. Hours turned to minutes and abruptly the only thing that mattered was getting out.
For every one who left their home, another arrived to face your ferocity. Bravery showed up with trucks, hoses and deep resolve. The air was filled with helicopters and planes. Your power would be met with courage and cunning.
And those here to fight you would be met with open hearts and active hands.
As the forest fed your insatiable appetite, we began to feed our heroes. Our plans were immediately set aside to bring the warriors water, lip balm, socks, and essentials.
You are fire; we are love. We matched your fury with the gratitude and caring that fueled our hearts.
We took care of each other and hoped for the best for our mountains. As the firefighters saved every structure, we let go of our grudges, our pettiness and our stuff. We only cared that no one was hurt, not one life lost.
And in return, you cared for our mountain. As if by magic, you burned mostly underbrush. You cleared the way for new growth and life. You left us with incomprehensible beauty.
You showed us things don’t matter and that people do. You fueled courage, caring and passion in the firefighters who came to face you. You burned the underbrush of our hearts and made us one.
As we feed and care for the remaining firefighters and sit down to our Thanksgiving dinners in our still-standing homes, may we be forever grateful for your cleansing power and ever mindful that love is the only thing that matters.
Know someone who would love this article? Email or share below!Lynn Carnes accelerates change and unleashes leadership performance in organizations, especially in context of challenges without easy answers.
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