A couple weeks ago, in the first few days of Corona quarantining, I had a recurring thought: I have to do something. It was energizing; it was exciting. My March and April calendar had cleared themselves completely, as if someone had waved a magic wand. No more speaking gigs, no more conferences, no more traveling.
I have to use this time to the fullest!
After all, Isaac Newton did! Shakespeare did! They conceived of their best ideas while quarantined from the plague. What rock-star best-selling world-changing idea will I come up with?
Of course, it didn't take long for the overwhelm to settle in. I had a ton of projects to work on – book, website, new products, you name it – but I couldn't seem to focus on one. It didn't help that there were a million blogs and newsletters sitting in my inbox, exhorting me to make the most of my time and offering tips on how to do that. I couldn’t even check my email without being reminded of all the other things I could do: clean my house! Meditate! Start a new business! Save the world!
I felt buried in an avalanche of stress. In an attempt to use every precious quarantined second, I was buzzing around all my projects like a caffeinated bee, but not actually accomplishing much. I was doing a lot, but I wasn't doing anything well.
One afternoon as I sat at my computer, trying to accomplish everything all at once, my daughter Kaya came up and stood behind me. For a minute she didn't say anything. Then I heard, "Are you done, Mom?"
Then it occurred to me: My kids are on spring break. I would have been away on vacation, but I'm acting like this needs to be my busiest week ever. I've put myself under all this pressure to be productive!
That was a turning point for me. I started to think, What if this time of social distancing isn't about forcing ourselves to be productive?
What if this downtime is really a time to process? To reflect? To allow for what comes next?
All things in nature are cyclical. There is time to work, and time to just be. There is a time to create and a time to sit back. A time for movement and a time for stillness. A time to act, and a time to reflect.
Perhaps there's a higher meaning behind this crisis. As a culture, we are constantly buzzing around, competing with ourselves to see how many hours we can work, how little sleep we can get, how much we can do.
Maybe we need to take a break from all that. To simply be.
Don't get me wrong—there is still time for work. In response to the outbreak, I created a series of free group coaching calls and Moticise videos – even some for kids! – in order to help people get through these stressful times and find community despite their isolation. By focusing primarily on that one project, I found a way to be authentically productive, creating something meaningful to myself and hopefully to others. (For more on that scroll down – I'd love to have you join!)
But along with that, I'm also getting the message: now is a time to reflect, to allow, to be still.
So what about you?
Have you been giving yourself time (and permission) to slow down, to be still, to—dare I say it—enjoy this time of isolation?
If not, how might you do that today?
I encourage you to build some time into each day to unwind. If you're feeling the pressure to use every second and do that world-shattering thing you've been meaning to do, well, there's time for that. You don't need to devote every last moment to it, though. Chances are, that'll drive you nuts.
Stay in, be still, and shine.
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