Integrating rest into your practice can help avoid burnout.
An unpopular opinion, consistency isn’t always beneficial.
It’s spoken about as being the secret to success. Which it is. It is something we need.
Yet we need to weigh it against our fatigue level. Is it propelling us towards success or is it accelerating us towards burnout?
When we’re physically and mentally drained, continuing to show up “just to push through” is not a good growth mechanism.
Consistency is what drives us to succeed when no one is looking, but it’s also what can promote burnout at the same time.
“The seeds of accomplishment sprouts in the soil of consistency.”
― Maxime Lagacé
We’ve all heard, consistency is what pushes us to succeed when no one is looking.
Showing up every day when no one is around is what propels us forward. It’s what pushes professional athletes and musicians.
On the day of the game, when the baseball player makes a diving catch, it didn’t happen by accident or by chance.
They practiced this and repeated this without any crowds or fans. They arrived at an empty arena or a small practice facility to hone their skills.
This is the same for anything else you might be doing. Whether it’s training for a 5k or studying a new language or developing a skill to better serve your client, it’s the same thing.
It’s what you do when no one is looking.
It’s the hard days, where you’re tired, and you do it anyway. Or the day you think it doesn’t matter if you skip a day because no one will notice, but you still do it.
You’re right, no one will notice.
No one knows your schedule or your goals but you. Except how many times will one skipped day turn into 2 or more?
Even taking a small action on those days is what will propel you forward.
That’s what gets you there. You can’t show up, put on a jacket and say you’re ready. You need to do the work to be able to put on that jacket and say you’ve arrived.
Yet, when you’ve pushed through too many days, you might not be able to put on the jacket.
You’ve shown up every day, but immediately need a breather or to quit altogether because you’ve done too much.
I thought being consistent was doing the right thing for success?
“Consistency is not just knowing about your fuel levels, but becoming a lifelong student to them. Recognizing the need, changes, and effects of fuel then responding.”
― Dexter A. Daniels, Consistent, Not Different: Why We Stray from the Path and Reasons to Return
Consistency without rest is setting ourselves up for burnout.
Repeating and showing up when no one is looking is good practice, but it can also be bad practice too.
If we’re exhausted we’re not going to gain very much from pushing through a day.
We’ll end up more exhausted and likely having done a bad job on top of it.
While I was working as an engineer, I often ran into other coworkers that would work until 10p or midnight to get something done.
Sure they got it done on time, but it often would need to be redone or would have heavy edits associated with it.
Those people showed up and pushed through their fatigue, but it produced a bad product.
Not only did they further exhaust themselves, but they created more work as well. They were going to have to redo what they just completed.
Taking a break would have suited them better.
They likely would have finished more efficiently the next day. They also would have likely avoided extra edits or rework.
I’m not immune, I’ve also found myself in a similar situation on occasion.
I’ve set a schedule for writing, but for whatever reason on some days, I’m anxious or stressed. I sit there and watch the wheels in my head start cranking. Not in a good way.
No one is watching or knows this schedule I’ve set. Instead of sitting there and ruminating for 20 minutes, I do a quick meditation or exercise.
I could waste those 20 minutes on a stress hamster wheel, or I could work to calm my mind, allowing myself to think more clearly and efficiently.
Consistency is the same thing. It doesn’t care if you’re burnt out or that you’ve pushed yourself too hard. It’s this wheel of activity. In order for our brains to function more efficiently, we need to include breaks.
If we don’t include breaks, one sluggish day may turn into a second. Before we know it, we’ve had a week or month of bad days where we consistently showed up but didn’t accomplish much. Or we’ve consistently shown up but created more work for ourselves.
Taking a day off is okay. It allows us to reset and reframe.
Heather Cherry outlines in Forbes the Key Benefits of Rest:
- Promoting Mental Health (allowing for healing)
- Reduces Stress
- Boosts Creativity
- Improves Productivity
- Enhances Decision Making
If rest allows us to be those things, then it’s vital to include them in our growth mechanisms.
These are very constructive. This is intriguing because an inactive task accomplishes these states of being.
Our society struggles with this idea. Of being able to be productive during rest.
A rest day is an activity we need to complete. It’s another form of showing up for ourselves. It’s just an inactive activity.
Essentially, we need to consistently include rest in our schedule to be successful.