This is going to be a “do as I say, not as I do” article. Admittedly, I struggle with disconnecting. I find it hard to set work aside and use my mind and energy on other things. I find this to be true now more than ever given the reality of life during this pandemic. It is hard to discern a Tuesday from a Saturday and an afternoon from a late night.
I write this as an admonition to myself and us all. We need to make time to turn it all off. Let’s walk away from our busy minds and the cortisol producing stress that we face for so many hours of the day.
I have a unique position of bearing witness to the ineptitude of many as it relates to shutting down. As entrepreneurs, I sense the shared feeling is that a moment not used is one wasted.
I write this because I see and hear the burn out on the faces and in the voices of those on the other side of the webcam. Exhaustion appears to be a companion to this pandemic. The truth is, if left untreated, it can do as much harm as COVID to both you and your business.
Elite athletes understand the importance of recovery days. They recognize that to be able to operate at peak performance, they need to prioritize restorative care.
Most major spiritual traditions also see the importance of a day of rest, encouraging us to welcome solitude and introspection. They further remind us to be with our families and friends.
The logical, linear side of us all understands the importance of downtime, but the driven, high-performance side labels it as laziness as time wasted. When we do allow ourselves to slow down, we typically fill that emptiness with mind-numbing activities like binge-watching Netflix.
What happens when we turn it all off? When we choose to curl up with a good book, put on some music, or just sit in silence? For me, the world slows down. I begin to settle, to sense the toll that the constant “fight or flight” mindset has on me emotionally and physically.
I don’t do it enough, but I am trying to do it more frequently. I feel guilty when I first open a book having nothing to do with marketing, economics, or politics. One that instead transports me to some magical fictional world where I am merely an observer and not a participant. Yet, when I set that guilt aside and jump in completely, I emerge more rested, more vibrant, and ready to reengage fully.
I meditate for 30-minutes a day and exercise most of the time. But other than in those moments or when asleep, I am rarely more than 15 feet away from my laptop, and its call is constant.
It is not going to be easy to break the rope that holds me close to my work. I love what I do, but doing it all the time is not smart or healthy.
So join me. Even if we can’t break the rope entirely, maybe we can extend the length a bit. Let’s find a bit more downtime. In that vein, I am going to stop here and curl up with my book. Be well.
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Elliot Begoun a 30-year industry veteran, author, and the Founder of TIG, a practice focused on helping emerging natural product brands grow. TIG works with its entrepreneurs to build nimble, capital-efficient, resilient brands that become tardigrades, not unicorns. Learn more about TIG’s programs here and catch him at FoodBytes, the Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute, the Natural Products Business School. You can find his articles in publications such as The Huffington Post, SmartBrief, and New Hope.