Are you a motivated individual? Are you always moving forward? Are you always working on the next goal? Do you get pleasure from the hustle of creating your future? There are some of you who are reading this right now and nodding your head yes. These are generally good qualities to possess. You’re well on your way to achieving your dreams.
However, let me ask you another set of questions. Which day of the week do you generally take off to rest? How often do you find quiet places to reflect? What do your personal retreats look like? How much do you value rest and reflection? If you’re staring blankly at your screen wondering why anyone would ask such silly questions, then let’s discuss the power of the pause.
But, what’s the purpose of the pause? Why would you need to stop, rest and reflect? You don’t get any work done that way. You’re either taking ground or losing ground, right? If you’re under the impression that you can just push, push, push, and continue to take ground, you’ve bought into a lie. Have you heard of the Law of Diminishing Returns? The Law of Diminishing Returns simply states that every individual will hit a point in time when productivity will drop off significantly and will not return. This means no matter how many hours you work or how hard you try to push through, you will feel as if you’ve hit the wall of productivity. Typically, you’ll hit this wall daily around the eight to ten hour point. On a weekly basis, after 5-6 days. Beyond that, you’ll need to experiment and figure you’re monthly and yearly rhythms. Think of your life like a road trip. Driving hard may get you to your destination, but every road-trip is filled with pauses to cool down and re-fuel.
If you’re a hard driver and have thought of rest and reflection as wasted time, let me share two truths that may help in learning to take and enjoy pauses.
Truth #1: Magic happens when you create space to dream and reflect.
A great mentor of mine told me years ago, “Life happens in the margins.” He was right. What are the margins? They are the buffer times in your schedule and your life. If you have every minute scheduled, all the time, you have no margin and that’s no kind of life. When you create these margins in your life, you’re creating space to dream and reflect. Imagine how much more you could accomplish if you had a regular flood of new and creative thoughts come to you. That’s the magic that happens when you create space to dream and reflect. Have you ever taken a walk down streets you normally drive? If you do, you’ll notice all kinds of things you’ve never seen before. That mom and pop business that doesn’t have a flashy sign. The beautiful fountain that’s slightly obscured by a strip mall. A single home in the middle of a retail district. You can gain a greater perspective when you slow down. You see things that were previously hidden from sight. Your best ideas will remain hidden from you if you continue to drive hard all the time.
Create space in your life to dream and reflect.
Truth #2. Energy naturally returns and increases through these times of rest and reflection.
Are you tired? When you don’t pause and rest, you are more tired. This puts you in the camp with so many others who desperately want more energy. However, a good-night’s sleep or a few hours unplugged from your work will give you 10x’s more energy than a four pack of your favorite energy drink. This is how God created you. You’re an amazingly complex machine, but you were born with the design that requires rest. Just like any other machine with a design, if you use it like it was intended to be used, it performs. If you use it in a way contrary to its design, it breaks down. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done nothing for nearly an entire day, feeling like I had no energy, only to magically feel my physical and mental energy hit 100% sometime in the late afternoon. The only thing I did to replenish that energy was nothing. You are made to rest.
It seems counter-intuitive, but if you want maximum energy and creativity, you must step back, rest, and reflect.
It’s the power of the pause.
It’s wise to not ignore it.