Coming up for Air

There is nothing more important in life than doing your work. I came to this conclusion around the thousandth time I noticed just how miserable I felt whenever I went too long without writing, or even just playing my guitar. And by contrast how alive I always felt the second I came back to it.

To be clear, when I use the word “work”, what I mean has absolutely nothing to do with your job, or whatever you currently happen to be doing for a living. The two things tend to have very little to do with one another. No, I’m talking about “work” in the Nietschzean sense: Your “Life Task”. The thing – if you believe in the same kind of woo-woo I do – that you were put on this Earth to do.

Getting into a rhythm of spending time on your true calling every day is a beautiful thing, but it’s not without its dangers. Like anywhere else in life, too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. If you never come up for air, if you never let yourself rest, not only will you halt your progress, you will burn out. You will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

So if you’ve been grinding and grinding for a while now, feeling that you don’t need some time off, or perhaps that you’ve not yet earnt the right to take some time off, or that you’re scared that that taking some time off will kill all the wonderful momentum you’ve created… then stop what you are doing.

Take today off. Please. At the very least. Preferably, take off the next week.

And then go right back to what you were doing.

What you will most likely find is that rather than doing you any damage whatsoever, the time away from your work will grant you an instantly fresher perspective – a feel for the gestalt that is impossible to come by when you never come up for air. You will suddenly have a clearer sense of what is and isn’t working, as well as ideas for how to emphasise the former and how to delete the latter.

So whilst nothing is more important than doing your work, building in periods of rest and reflection is part of doing your work. Think of it like sleep. Just as the time you spend asleep each night makes your days fuller, the time you spend away from your work makes your work fuller.

Work hard, but come up for air just as often.

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