At new year, everyone tends to get focused and pumped and start firing on into the year, and today I want to write about doing something contrary to that – taking a step back.
“Take a step back, evaluate what is important, and enjoy life.” – Teri Garr
Sometimes we all get caught up a little too much in everyday life, feel out of control and, well, that can result in us feeling rubbish about ourselves!
It is so important that when we get into (or close to) such a place, we considertaking a step back, and start to feel good about ourselves again, because if YOU don’t appreciate YOU then how can we expect people around us to?
It seems to now be an accepted cultural norm that being busy automatically equates to success, so being busy is something that many people strive for. But perhaps for some, or at some times,such busy-ness can be all wrong.
Stop being so busy all the time?
Our daily life is often a busy, non-stop place to be. Sometimes it can feel like an exhausting, never-ending treadmill of busyness – one that it isn’t always easy to step off or step back from. Of course, there are times when we will be busy, there’s no getting away from that – but we shouldn’t be relentlessly plodding away on the treadmill all the time just for the sake of appearing to be busy and for all the perceived ‘benefits’ this brings us.
Instead, we sometimes (or perhaps often) need to consciously step off the treadmill now and again. We need to give ourselves the space and time to think, so that we are in the best position possible to move forward with more energy. Yes, your day-to-day tasks will usually still need to be delivered, but it is worth stepping back now and again to spend some time really thinking about ourselves, or reflecting, or even not thinking at all in order to reset.Researchers at University at Buffalo (Phuong et al., 2018, Journal of Experimental Psychology)found that to maximally benefit from awe-inspiring experiences when facing subsequent stressors, we may need to take a step back from ourselves before we take it all in.
So, if, you’ve too often succumbed to the curse of being too busy, now may be the time to change that. After all, this period of unprecedented change that we’re all trying to navigate, demands our full attention, and therefore will require us to stop, reset and re-calibrate more often. Here are some of the benefits of breaking the busyness and pressing pause now and again:
Youget better at prioritising:
If your to-do list seems to be never-ending, and you’re busy trying to deal with 101 things all at once, then the likelihood is that you’re probably not really dealing with any of them properly, or if you are, it’s taking you longer than it should be.
By carving out some time to stop with all the busyness, and take a step back, you’ll be much better equipped to focus on what really matters and prioritise from there. You’ll recognise the most important aspects of your life and have more energy and focus to put on them.
Spend some time doing exercise or physical activity, for example. Many people seem to think of exercise as a chore, but it can be the best medicine you can give yourself. Find a type of exercise that makes you feel good and that you enjoy; whether it is yoga, a sport, lifting weights, running, swimming or dancing, and do it with regularity! Freeing up some time to exercise can also lift the mental fog that comes with having to spin lots of plates at the same time, and help you see things more clearly. I get some of my best ideas during or following exercise, which leads me nicely onto this next point…
You’ll come up with better ideas:
Great ideas and creativity are what really fuels the success, so you need to ensure that, you’re in the best position you can be to be creative and come up with those game-changing ideas. Pausing the daily grind, even just for a few minutes, and doing something completely different can be hugely powerful here.
If you think about it, it’s those times when we feel a real sense of space and clarity – when we’re disconnected from the day-to-day – that our minds are free to come up with our best ideas. Many of our ‘light bulb’ moments come when we’re relaxed and ‘off-peak’- not when we’re constantly being pulled from pillar to post, just trying to keep the cogs in the machine running.
This is because it’s times such as these which encourage a mental state referred to by some authors/researchers as the ‘default mode network’ – which allows us to become less aware of our environment, and more aware of our internal thoughts, as explained by psychologist, John Kounios. This allows the mind to think in non-linear ways, sparking creative thinking and problem solving.
So, by proactively disconnecting from youreveryday grinding, and freeing your mind, you’ll be far better equipped to think in non-linear ways and therefore come up with the best ideas youcan. It’s those ideas that are the real indicator of success in the future, not how ‘busy’ you are.
You’ll be far better able to adapt to change:
If we’re prone to operating in autopilot mode, within the confines of our own comfort zones, being endlessly busy all the time, then we risk never fully opening our eyes to all the change that is on the horizon. And if we can’t see or foresee this change, how on earth will we be able to prepare for it and adapt to it?
It’s important to lift our heads above the parapet and stop to read, listen and watch all the change that is going on around us. If we do, then we’ll be far more capable of adapting to it. If we don’t, and instead, do everything in our power to ‘busy’ ourselves, then we’ll simply become blind to it.
So, in the long run, spending time to educate yourself and to open both your eyes and your mind now and again, is far more valuable than ticking ten things off your to-do list every hour, in a bid to be seen as busy and successful.
You’ll learn something new:
Our mind is like a muscle – if you’re constantly busy operating within your comfort zone, never really being stretched or challenged, your mind won’t develop. After all, how can you expect your mind to grow when it’s just busy doing the same things over and over again. The very act of taking a step back to think and reflect can help you change all that. This will help you start to see things from a different perspective and establish different patterns of thinking. This is a skill in itself, and one that you need to keep practising.
Take some time out now and again to think about and reflect on the direction of your life to develop yourself as an individual. Go for a walk, for example. Put your trainers on, take your headphones if you want to, but just get outside. Fresh air seems to make everything a bit better. You appreciate the little things; like the sun in the sky, the wildlife around you and the smell of the grass. It is the perfect way to clear your head and it gives you a bit of perspective on your life.
Not only that, but taking a step back, you’ll be able to assess your current skills that will be needed to ensure success in the future.
You’ll feel happier and more fulfilled:
Consciously taking the time to let your mind find the space to think more clearly and look to the future can be hugely fulfilling and motivating. This allow you to feel more proactively connected to the bigger picture and wider purpose of your life whichis definitely a good thing. Not only that, but research by Nadler, Rabi and Minda (2010, Psychological Science) shows that a positive mindset can allow your brain to think more creatively too – and creativity is what many of usbenefit from having more of.
The mind is a powerful thing. Adopting a mindset of growth can ultimately make you more successful. Allowing yourself to take a step back now and then is an incredibly important part of this process. Not only will these moments of respite and reflection make you feel more mentally healthy, but they’ll help frame your thinking in the right way, enabling you to tackle everyday problems and challenges proactively.
Whether it is meeting up with friends, engaging in mindful meditation, reading a new book, watching your favourite TV show or getting out for a walk, do the things that you enjoy doing or love to do. It will not only distract you from what is getting you down but you will feel so much better after taking some YOU time.
Just a step back –it’s the simple words we all need reminding of now and again – especially during changing, challenging times. Being busy has almost become our identity – we think the busier we are, the more impressive we seem – it’s a story we tell ourselves every day. Now is the time tochange all that.
“Sometimes you just have to take a step back, take stock of your life, and recognize what isn’t serving you. It might be a relationship that causes you nothing but heartache, a pattern of behaviour that sets you up for disappointment or failure, or even just a refusal to accept reality for what it is. Whatever it is that causes you pain, find the self-awareness to be honest with yourself and the strength to let it go. Nothing will change till you do.” – Lori Deschene⠀
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