My Favorite Trick to Blow Through Overwhelm

Monday I got back from vacation and faced a concrete wall of overwhelm.

But because this is not my first rodeo, I did what I’ve learned is the absolute best course of action.

I scheduled lunch with a friend, followed by a massage.

“I could never take a day off after vacation!” my lunch companion said.  To which I said, “Family vacations are a ton of work. Of course I need a rest!”

And that’s the rub. First, we underestimate our need for recovery, and second, we think that the answer to overwhelm is pushing through.

But Stephen Covey had the right idea when he said, “Sharpen the saw.”  

Basically, when you have something really important to do, make sure you’re in the right condition for it.  This doesn’t mean make sure you have the right external tools (though that can be important), it means begin by taking care of yourself.

The trick is to know when you need that.

Because America is the land of the Rugged Individual and the Protestant Work Ethic. We see pushing through as a sign of character.

And we judge ourselves and others when we slack.

But that means we don’t recover. And just like sawing a tree with a dull saw, our productivity tanks.

We spend exponentially more hours to get the same result, and that leads to real, chronic burnout.

Sometimes the moment we need recovery the most is right when things are getting easier.

I remember renting mountain bikes once and being told, “When there’s a lull in the climb, don’t pedal.  Save your energy for the next ascent.”

And right now we are in such a moment.

After more than two years of increased uncertainty, fear and adaptation, we see the light at the end of the tunnel and we want to push. But we need a little rest first.

It occurred to me when I started seeing messages about rest and letting go everywhere I looked.

I got an email from Jack Kornfield  with a line that blew my mind, “…put down all your plans.”

Then, one of my most productive friends (she was once shocked to hear that I routinely run out of milk for my family) sent me an excited text about Tiffany Dufu who wrote a book called Drop the Ball.

Harvard Ideacast by Madeleine Dorr talks about letting go of efficiency in service of creativity.

And finally, when I was revisiting Stephen Covey’s principles, the one that reached out and grabbed me by the lapels was “Sharpen the Saw.”

So please remember. If you’re feeling excitement, but can’t seem to find your groove, consider some rest, time with a friend, time in nature, or exercise without a goal.

It will pay dividends.

My best,

Tifin Dillon - Use Astrology for Your Leadership Style

Isabelle Steichen - Millennial Free Agent

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