Build Breaks in the Action

January 23, 2013

playPacing in a permanent white water world, a world of permanent change, depends on you. You cannot trust the river to provide a manageable pace. You have to do that. In kayak parlance, you need to work the eddies, the calm pools off the sides of a river. In fact, you might think of your journey not as running the river but as working the eddies, that is, of maneuvering from eddy to eddy or break to break.

A stop for lunch on the river or a pause in an eddy behind a rock can do wonders, enabling you to recover from the rapids just run and renewing your energies for the rapids ahead. During the workday and throughout the week, you need to create breaks in the action — perhaps a few moments for reflection, mediation, stretching, yoga,or tai chi. Find at least 30 minutes to exercise each day which can mean just going for a walk (and a talk) with family or friends or doing even light yard work. Take time for lunch, a real meal with real conversation, at least several times a week. Protect at least part of your weekend from work; turn off your business phone and put it in a drawer (no flashing red light reminders of the unknown awaiting you!). Honor your need for sleep and wind down– clear the noise of the day from your head (and any heaviness from your heart) with your favorite music, a few minutes of meditation, or an intimate, supportive conversation (giving or receiving). And, as your mother told you, you need your sleep. Sleep deprivation cuts our intellectual and emotional capacity and quickly.

If you think you can live without these breaks, you fool only yourself. You need places in your life where you can stop and get your bearings, to catch your breath before plunging back into the action. Protect these moments, even when the waters are rising. If you think breaks will naturally occur in permanent whitewater, or will appear as a reward for all your hard work, you also fool yourself. You need to seek out the eddies. If you don’t, then eventually you will pay the price and probably not at a time or in a manner of your choosing. Besides, breaks can simply be fun. They don’t replace the need for vacations but they provide important, even essential, ‘booster’ shots. Enjoy. (For more on building breaks in the action, see Chapter 2 in Your Job Survival Guide.)