The Stop/Revive/Survive advertisement campaigns that ran many years ago, when I was living in Sydney, made more of an impact on me than I realised at the time. The campaign was aimed at preventing driver fatigue and also to ensure that drivers took the time to rest at appropriate junctions throughout their journey. Now, anytime I am on the road travelling by car, it is something that is clearly top of my mind.
Over the course of the last four weeks, I???ve had cause to think about this. A combination of overwork, a more vulnerable immune system and the juggle of many projects led to me falling ill and worn out for a significant period of time. Now better, I???ve reflected that I dealt with this in a good way :-
- I switched off from work. In many ways, it was hard. Knowing that there was so much coming in and that there would be such a volume of stuff to deal with when I was eventually able to, was causing a great deal of stress. But physically incapable of dealing with it, made it so much easier to manage it emotionally and mentally as well.
- I went with the flow. When your life is in a constant state of motion, when you have more to do on your plate than you perhaps care to handle and when life is generally good but very full, it can be very disconcerting to suddenly have everything switched off. Having idle time on your hands, you automatically feel like you???re wasting the time you have when actually you are resting and trying to recuperate. I decided that it was not going to be helpful or speed recovery if I tried to do a little bit of stuff every day. So I went with the flow. Emotionally and physically. When I felt able and interested, I worked. Imagine that! When I didn???t, I just didn???t. I left work as it was…. in limbo.
- I embraced the white space. I am such a doer, the inclination was to fill the downtime with productive activity. Yet, while that seemed possible, it was not viable. So, I didn???t do anything productive in this time. I didn???t catch up on reading, I didn???t watch movies. I didn???t make calls. In fact, I didn???t do very much except embrace the wide expanse of nothing in front of me.
- I acknowledged my situation and got support. I didn???t try to do it alone. I reached out, I was cared for and it made all the difference in the world.
- Nothing fell apart. It???s easy to fall into the trap and think that what-might-have-been is the end of the world. But the reality is that the sky didn???t fall down and things didn???t come apart at the seams.
There are times when you must fight against what is in front of you. And there are times you should go with the flow. The skill lies in knowing the difference.
I have come to believe that while life is a journey, it also prepares you by focusing you on the tools you need to sharpen, for your trip. How much gets done depends on the alignment between what life is preparing you for and what you see that life is preparing you for.