Are you able to take a vacation and come back in a relaxed and refreshed state of mind? In Steven Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, his 7th habit is ‘Sharpen the Saw’, which refers to finding that balance between the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual areas of your life. It is the balance of these that we all need to be most effective in our personal and professional lives. And taking a good chunk of time to get away from your routine and enjoy yourself, away from the phone ringing, “you’ve got mail” messages, and all the responsibilities of work, should be part of that spiritual addition to balance your life. You can get this spiritual balance in your life by spending time in nature, or by expanding your spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer, or service.
When was the last time you were able to clear your mind, reflect and refocus your thoughts so that you were able to get your spiritual balance? How often do you take more than a few days to go to an area that has very limited cell phone and internet access? Do you find yourself too attached to those electronic devices that make you connected to the world 24/7? If you answered yes, then you might want to find a more isolated place to take a break. For me, I recently took time away in the wooded isolation of the Smoky Mountains. This time away allowed me to clear my mind, reflect and refocus. Walking through the woods with the beautiful fall foliage, taking several moments to enjoy the mountain views, listening to the murmuring of the cool mountain streams…this allowed that natural awakening of the senses. The Native American Indians refer to the Long Man who speaks in the murmuring of those streams. I enjoyed listening to the Long Man. The poem “Trees” at the beginning of one short trail in the Joyce Kilmer National Forest reminded me to respect nature as I walk through a forest of huge trees that are more than 400 years old. History tells me that time is precious and I should value that time I have on this earth. Nature gets me away from the connection to the business world and reminds me that there is so much more in life than just work.
It is not that I don’t enjoy my work. I love my work! But there are times when it just becomes too monotonous and sometimes overwhelming. I have to get away to get rejuvenated, to remember what it is in life I want most and why. As I come back from my vacation high, I have an amazing sense of clarity about what I need to be working on. I can prioritize those things on my desk. I have renewed the passion for what I am doing. And once again, I am working at optimum productivity. Why? Because I have had the chance to replenish my energy, nourish my body and clear my mind of all that clutter. It is the balance I needed to sharpen my saw.
If you have not had the opportunity to get away for enough of a period where you feel replenished, then what are you waiting for? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do when you get away? Once you do, you might be amazed at how much more effective you are in your work.