I spent the day in quiet solitude.
I had a few easy tasks to complete today, an interesting book to read and some thinking to do. I love days like this!
The high temperature today is 29 degrees here in the Finger Lake Region of New York State. There is a fresh coat of snow on the ground and it is calm and still outside. The sky is a beautiful blue with big, white clouds loitering on the horizon. The sun is shining brightly, reflecting off of the snow and it is blinding. Too bad I can’t find my sunglasses.
Other than venturing out to walk my dog, I have been inside of my house, sitting on the couch, relaxing all day. I consider myself blessed to have opportunities like this to regroup, to think, to unwind.
So many people simply don’t know how to relax. They are hyper-focused on one thing and never stop to smell the coffee much less the roses.
I used to be one of these people. I had a Director level position at a Human Service Agency that operated 24/7. It was not unusual for me to work on Saturdays and to get phone calls while on vacation. Once my boss insisted I participate in a conference call with the administrative team while I was at the lake. I was in my bathing suit for goodness sakes. Another time one of my staff called me as I was stepping into the kayak. Grrrrr!
Being focused is a good thing. When I am focused I can get a lot accomplished and that makes me feel productive. Being hyper-focused or narrowly focused can cause one to lose sight of the forest because they are staring at a few trees. When we are hyper-focused, say on a project at work we lose sight of other priorities such as our family or that book we dream of writing. We become blind to new opportunities that practically fall in our lap because we aren’t paying attention.
Being hyper-focused on one thing can lead to burnout and exhaustion. My friend who recently quit her job had spent 20 years at the same company. 20 years! I was in a similar position several years ago, trust me- that is a really long time. When you do something for such a long time your focus becomes narrow and it is easy to get stuck. You start to think you only have your job because you have been there so long. You don’t feel qualified to do anything other than what you are doing. You can’t figure out what other career opportunities exist for you, much less ones you might actually love.
In graduate school, I would study and study but never feel ready for the test. I was so focused on the upcoming exam that I would stay up late and get up early to review the materials. I would block out every free hour to study. I estimate that I over studied by as much as 2 hours for most exams. Yes, I was hyper-focused and ended up stressing myself out way more than if I had I simply put the books away once I knew the material.
Too much focus causes stress. I don’t know about you but when overly stressed I become kind of paralyzed. I go through the motions but my productivity, creativity and flexibility plummet. When people enter this paralysis mode it is impossible to break free by throwing more time and energy at the problem.
In essence, too much focus backfires and you wind up being less productive.
When I have the opportunity to really let go and relax, I can recharge my batteries which actually improves my ability to focus. Have you ever struggled with a problem for days and weeks on end only to figure out the best possible solution while in the shower or taking a walk? When we let go a little bit we let in the fresh air, the sunshine, and the warm breeze. We allow our mind to open up to new possibilities and AHA solutions emerge to problems that seemed impossible to solve.
Need some real life examples?
- I figured out how I would quit my job, move to the lake and take 6 months off while walking in the woods.
- I came up with a plan to eliminate my debt while laying in bed!
- I decided I would go per-diem at my job and hustle on the side doing work I enjoyed while sitting in the sun.
I had been struggling with each of these problems for months. I had focused intently on each problem and reviewed scenarios in my head until I was spinning. Sometimes the more I focus on a problem the louder my negative inner voice becomes in terms of my ability to solve it. Each problem had seemed impossible to solve and yet each was solved by relaxing and letting go. In each case the solution just popped into my head (AHA) and I was able to map out a few simple steps that I would need to implement in order to create change.
You don’t have to spend an entire day relaxing to experience an AHA moment. It is after all just a moment!
Ten minutes everyday in quiet solitude can do wonders for your soul – and your ability to solve impossible problems!
I took my quiet time this morning – did you?
Paddle On! Lake Girl