Do High Achievers Need a Break?

Disrupt Unhealthy Work Patterns

I didn’t mean to get into a heated discussion with a Pastor, but 21 years ago during my mandatory pre-marital crash course, I kind of did. We somehow got onto the subject of work-life balance, specifically when you are working on a project or multiple projects that you are passionate about. He was advocating that one must inflict mandatory rest times. My view is that if you are in a productive zone, why stop? He was in the middle of renovating his home and used this to illustrate his mantra of mandatory rest. He looked at me pointedly from across his desk and said, “There could be sawdust all over the floor, but on Sundays we leave the broom in the closet. We take our day of rest.” He was a lovely man, but the problem was I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t explain why I felt he wasn’t being completely honest, but the fact he wasn’t telling me the truth was a bit exasperating. My twenty-something self wanted to have an honest conversation about how to crack this puzzle of how to get it all done!

You may have already clued in as to why he wasn’t telling me the truth. Figure it out yet? Well, here’s the answer: He was a Pastor. Which means he preaches every Sunday. Which means he may not be sweeping sawdust on Sundays, but he was most certainly working! This realization (even though it’s two decades later) makes me a little happy, not because, like me, this guy has a hard time metaphorically putting down his broom. But the reason he let the conversation get a little ‘passionate’ was because at the time, he didn’t have the answer either to this complex work life balance question!

When it comes to taking a break, especially with high achievers, my experience is that you know yourself best. You know when you are getting to the point where you aren’t going to be as productive unless you take some down time. Recently, I hit that wall. I had fallen into a pattern of working evenings and weekends to complete a number of projects and the adrenalin rush had come to a head. Blessedly, my son had an all-day class trip in the middle of the week. My break was to be a chaperone, turn my phone off, and just enjoy the day. I even got to canoe with the kids on a beautiful lake. I made an intention to stay present in the day and left my work stuff behind. Sometimes taking a break doesn’t mean you need to schedule an elaborate vacation. It can just be doing something completely different to let your mind rest and disrupt what can sometimes be an unhealthy work pattern.

I was recently interviewed in a local paper about my various passions. It’s the reason I had been thinking about that conversation with the pastor so many years ago. Hopefully he would approve! You can read the article here.

Wishing you much success,

KarenSignature

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