Take It Easy.
Things in our world move at a freakishly fast pace. We do our best to keep up, but we often end up over exacting ourselves. Now, despite the obvious risks that come entangled with over exacting, we find ourselves pushing even further. Maybe it’s for that promotion. Perhaps it’s for that new deal or for a promising partner. I hold nothing against hard, smart-work, but I have a bone to pick on working without rest.
We’re in the age of being a workaholic and by-the-second time management. It’s never been easier to come off as ‘lazy’ or ‘unmotivated’ simply because you do things differently. Someone might be thrilled to work 70–80 hour work weeks, while someone else detests working a 9–5 and cannot extend a millisecond more than what is expected.
We all have different preferences. Some of us prefer entrepreneurship; others prefer the perceived stability of a 9–5. Whatever your grind, it doesn’t work without rest and taking it easy.
It all starts with awareness, self-awareness, to be exact. You’ve probably been through a lot, but you have to learn to question. Question your thoughts, your drives, your fears and your emotions. Stop being a bondsman to your brain’s habits and routines.
Here are some pointers on how to take it easy:
1. Embrace your individuality.
Understand that you are your own person, complete with a mind, a heart, a body and a soul. Understand that you have your own subjective experiences and your own personal reactions. Understand that what works for someone else will not necessarily work for you. You’ve already heard you’re unique or there’s nobody like you, and they’re all true. You are one of a kind. You have to learn how to be a capable individual, particularly one that can think and make responsible choices (independently). Embracing your individuality will help you make the right decisions because deep down, you’ll know what you want and what you’re willing to do and endure to get it. You should also understand that you are on your timeline and everyone has a different destination from yours. Someone wants to make 100k a year while someone else wants 100k a month. It’s all relative, and you have to find what works for you. Going through life feeling lost and unmotivated isn’t exactly living. Having a loving and healthy relationship with yourself is one of the most underrated pleasures on earth because no one got you as you do.
2. Understand your competition.
It’s okay to have people to look up to, but it’s unfair to compare yourself against them simply because you are not them and they are not you. It’s only fair to compare yourself against who you were yesterday. Track your progress and question your stagnation. Your neighbour is not your competition. That new hire at work is not your competition. You are your own competition, and you can set the bar as low or as high as you want. If we could work together in a spirit of mutual co-operation and collaboration, possibilities would be endless. If you really think about it, time is actually our competition because we’re all on a timer, and no one knows when it’ll hit zero. You should know that in the end, the flashy toys, the properties, the zeros in the bank don’t matter if they weren’t used for good. People regret what they didn’t do as opposed to what they did. Use your time wisely because once a second passes, you never, ever get it back. People get second and third chances all the time, but you never recoup lost time.
3. Do things that make you feel alive.
This trickles down from embracing one’s individuality. We can’t all like the same things or actually want to do the same things. What if being happy or feeling fulfilled involved doing more things that lead to happiness or fulfilment, rather than not doing the things that don’t lead to these outcomes?
What if instead of focusing on your weaknesses, you’d double down on your strengths? We all talk about imperfections and then go ahead to try and get rid of them.
What if you did more of what you wanted to do instead of doing what you think you must do?
Be honest and once you do, stay true to yourself.
You are smart. You know things. You know what you like and what you don’t like. I know you know that there are things that you don’t know and you haven’t tried, but you’d like to. So what are you waiting for? Everything exciting happens outside your comfort zone.
4. Cut yourself some slack.
We all have expectations, some higher than others, but still, we all have some. We have them on everything. From relationships to sex, from friends to family. Do you have some on work and rest?
You should rest as hard as you work; if you don’t, your body will hold it against you and probably punish you later in life, the way an unserviced machine abruptly breaks down. There’s a TED Talk on how sleep is a superpower. Find it here.
Cut yourself some slack in the form of rest, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Look, you are not a machine, and even if you think you are, eventually, we all need a break. (Machines in the form of service and living beings in the form of rest)
If you don’t take care of your body, it won’t take care of you.
5. Learn to disconnect.
I can only hope that you have healthy social media, phone and TV habits. I hope you take time to exercise because you know that your body was not made to sit on a chair from 9–5 and later sit or just lay while watching the news or your favourite series. Before cars or planes or boats or domesticated technology, our ancestors used to walk for days and therefore kept their bodies active. They used to eat well and take care of their bodies. Today, we consume too much sugar, too much of too many things. We spend too many hours staring at screens with ads that tell us we’re not good enough, news telling us we’re all in danger. You have to be conscious and intentional about your choices. If you make them haphazardly, the repercussions will be waiting at the corner to bite you on the ass. You don’t have to spend 12 hours on Instagram or re-watch Game of Thrones for the fourth time. You can spend that time away from electronic devices. You can spend that time with yourself, either learning or resting. You can spend that time with friends, family or strangers while getting to know them and yourself, listening to them and their stories (perhaps sharing yours too).
6. Be gentle, forgiving and kind.
These three traits and values can sometimes be seen as weaknesses but are masked strengths.
Employing them inwards towards yourself is one of the bravest things you’ll ever have to do. Being gentle, forgiving and kind (especially) when we fail is; so important. We average 12,000–60,000 thoughts a day, and 95% of them are the same exact thoughts from yesterday on a loop, and 80% are negative. With so much negativity, the importance of positive feedback cannot be overstated. To rest, you need to be gentle, forgiving and kind towards yourself because you’ll never really rest if you are not comfortable in your own skin. You won’t sleep if you don’t let yourself off the hook for your mistakes.
If you don’t forgive yourself for your past, you will not heal or move on.
Gentleness and kindness are on the path to forgiveness. No one’s perfect, and we all make mistakes. How we move past our mistakes is more important than how fast we move through them.
Hurt people, hurt people and who hurts us more than ourselves?
7. Stay in the present.
I actually wasn’t going to include this point because I’ve mentioned it a few times, but I’d like you to hear it again. Being present involves accepting reality as it is. It means you have to come to terms with:
- How you look like
- How you feel
- Where you’re at in life right now
- How healthy/unhealthy your relationships are
- What you’re willing to do
- What you need to do
- What you must do
Just to mention a few.
Only make plans when you know where you are (mentally, physically and emotionally).
- Slow down and take it easy. Deeply understand that you are running your own race. You are on your own time.
- You are your own competition. It’s okay to have people to look up to, but it’s unfair to compare yourself against them. Mirror their traits; their values but don’t mirror their personalities. Own your sh*t.
- Get out of your comfort zone and do more of the things that make you feel alive. It doesn’t matter how small or how big. Just do it.
- Cut yourself some slack. It’s okay to feel frustrated, and it’s okay to fail. Whenever you hit an obstacle, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.
- Be conscious and intentional about your choices.
- Be conscious and intentional about your thoughts. Be gentle, forgiving and kind towards yourself, especially when you fail, because that’s when you need really need it.