Step Away From Success.

In our current, fast paced society, being overworked is seen as an accomplishment. Being able to tell people you “have so many meetings” or a “pile of work to do” feels good, because it reassures us that we are in motion. We’re doing something more than lounging in bed or catching up on a Netflix show.

What we fail to realize though, is that while working for a living and carving out the life you want is incredibly rewarding, it’s not a full time endeavor. Working yourself to death is not an accomplishment, it’s literally a death sentence.

Prince Albert was know as one of the few members of the British Royal Family that was a hard worker. He was always organizing social events, learning new languages, and working around the clock to achieve as much as possible. But behind the scenes, his health took a tremendous toll. Over stressing and under sleeping eventually put Albert into an early grave.

A machine that works without ceasing will eventually break. A horse that continuously plows without a break will eventually collapse. An athlete that pushes himself through more training instead of taking time off eventually pulls a muscle or throws out an arm.

Now I’m not advocating for you to completely stop working. We were placed on this Earth for just that; to labor. You can’t expect to sit around and have your needs met. In some form, you have to work, whether it be an office job, a professional chef, or a YouTube streamer. You must work to survive.

What I am advocating for, is balancing the work with rest. It is okay to take a break. A tired mind is not a mind you want to make decisions with, just as you wouldn’t want to run a marathon without sleeping the night before. We feel the need to push ourselves, because in essence success will come sooner. “Working today means one less day I have to work in the future,” I used to tell myself.

But the more work I began to take on, the higher my stress levels rose. My To-Do list looked like a CVS Receipt. I had clients calling me all hours of the day asking if their projects were done. I had personal projects I desperately wanted to launch before a certain date. I was working myself to death.

It all changed with one simple trip to the beach, a few months ago. I kept telling myself I shouldn’t go, I had too much work to do. At the last minute, I caved, and went on the trip. A two day trip with friends cleaned my mental slate like never before. All the stress from work was washed away, I didn’t even think about work while I was gone.

Even more interesting, fresh new ideas flooded my brain while I was away. Being in my office, my one tract mind only focused on the work in front of me. But being able to clear all that away, allowed for new ideas to present themselves.

On the final day, I had never felt more refreshed. I was ready to get back to work with a clear mind, and a renewed focus. The following week, was probably one of the most productive weeks I had that year.

It seems ironic that by not doing work, you can produce better quality work. But being able to step away from it all, to take a breath and clear your mind, is something that many of us need. Instead of rushing a project or producing low quality work just to meet a deadline, take even just a day to pause and recollect. Go for a walk, hang out with friends, read a book.

Just take a break.

Ryan Holiday says it perfectly in Stillness Is The Key:

“It’s human being, not human doing, for a reason. Moderation. Being present. Knowing your limits. This is the key. The body that each of us has was a gift. Don’t work it to death. Don’t burn it out. Protect the gift.”

Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Be alive and healthy when you reach the finish line.

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