So …. After days/weeks/months of pulling your weight, planning, initiating, you look at your extensive to-do and realize ‘wow! I have checked out every.single.item!’.
Feeling achieved, I am…
What happened after is what we all dread: the initial feeling of accomplishment has faded, and now comes the time of ‘now what?’
The brain addicted to busyness and drama cannot deal with the blank page.
Welcome to the place of in-between, where balance is confused with boredom and vice-versa; after the high of the action, it can also be a daunting place of stuck-ness and stagnation where we will need to face one of our biggest challenges: making peace with uncertainty and the unknown.
Everything is cyclical – it’s part of the game
Let me start by inviting you to honor that place where time seems to have stopped.
Whether you call it a tunnel, a bridge, of the dark night of the soul – that place in-between is normal, natural, and necessary.
It is the space where all of your previous initiations and actions get digested, filtered, and assimilated.
Like for everything in nature, this middle place is part of the cycle of rest and maturation.
Our patience gets tested with the wait, the boredom, and the stress of not having anything to do. Reminding us of that universal truth that we have forgotten: how to live as nature intended.
Not our binary corporate life of on/off switches that end up being taxing on our bodies and our mental health. But in synch with the natural order of action-rest-reaction.
Everything is cyclical.
Nature is, so our bodies – even businesses and societies go through cycles: not dormant nor passive, but adjusting their strategies to their new normal – until the next cycle of ‘back in active mode’.
Strategy #1: hibernation
First and relatively obvious strategy: introspection – this is what I would start with.
Once the running to-do closed, it may be tempting to want to go back and review your goals immediately. But as you can intuitively feel, this is defying the exact point of the in-between – embracing the stillness.
How many times have you promised yourself that you will go back to your daily rituals of meditation, gym, journaling; and ended putting it off because something has come up and ‘I have no time’?
Now is a good time – if this space is indeed a form of dark night of the soul, then embrace it and explore all of the facets of you that have been buried under the heavy layers of ‘no time, later’.
Grab a cup of something hearty and warm – or cold and juicy – find a place to curl up and start journaling.
Note: not everything is about the job and the career. Focus equally on what you have learned from your past or current relationships, romantic, work, friendships …
Here are some suggestions – feel free to change, amend, come back and repeat as things show up for you.
- Looking back for the last few months, what was my biggest achievement?
- What was my biggest failure?
- For each, what qualities did I exhibit?
- What is my proudest moment?
- The meh one?
- What did I learn from each event?
- What/how do I want to be/feel going forward
Every once in a while, when you feel yourself stagnating, not knowing where your next step should be, take some ‘mental looping’ time off – and reflect back on the lessons that hindsight can bring you.
Strategy #2: Exploration
Life likes flow, so does this time in-between. After the looking inwards, time has come to put some necessary order in what you have been inviting into your life and space – and decide who should stay and who should go.
- Who would you like to meet next? Both professionally and personally? Why?
- Who in your current circles depletes you?
- Who do you enjoy the idea of spending time with?
- What does your support system look like?
- Your professional network?
- Who do you admire?
Use this phase to remodel your way of thinking your life as a cocktail of work and play. Work/life balance may be a nice illusion, but there are ways to invite more joy and sharing into your life.
Strategy #3: Invite more balance
More balance means finding ways to enjoy your days in a more meaningful way. And for the sake of spicing things up a bit, why not testing and introducing new ways of doing/being/thinking?
- If you tend to want to do everything on your own (when it’s not your job and it’s costing you money, time, and opportunities), consider enrolling the help of a coach, a therapist, joining a club or asking a mentor for a new perspective, accountability and renewed motivation
- Revisit a past experience with a fresh new eye
- That vacation that you have been putting on the back-burner…
More balance is also inviting more humor in our lives – this childlike quality of lightness that we have been forgetting between the demands of the job, the obligations, the triggering and relentless World News and the rest.
Strategy # after all the other strategies: Now you can review your goals
Going back to your goals first when things are slowing down is not always the best strategy. Why? Because you are putting yourself back again in the mental/intellectual realm of forcing, that the place in-between is precisely inviting you to take a break from.
Now that you have created the space for introspection, reflection, rest and enjoying life on Earth, it may be a good time to review and amend your goals, coming from a new perspective of wanting to enjoy more and hustle and push less.
Create goals that invite growth, new learnings and expansion.
Less working against the grain, more going with the flow – acknowledging your inner needs, working with others, making the most of life as your priority – even when it means not doing anything.