The Unexpected Way to Be Successful: 3 Ways to Slow down in Order to Speed Up

how to be successful author samantha eklund

In the pursuit of our dreams and goals, you and I have a tendency to get carried away. (Let’s be honest!)

It’s not necessarily our fault; we live in a world and culture that says busier is better, even if it comes at the cost of our health, relationships, and joy.

So when someone comes along and gives advice that disrupts that (like I’m about to do), it can be confusing.

However, I am here to propose that sometimes, in order to speed up we need to slow down. We cannot always be running at 100%, or else we are going to burn out (which is NEVER a pretty process, #uglycry).

When our bodies and brains are running optimally, we produce our best work and have the capacity to deal with unexpected setbacks. This relates to my past blog post How to Be Successful (Part 4): The Secret to Producing Your Most Fruitful Work, but takes it a little further.

How then, do we avoid burnout and do this “slowing down” thing? I’m so glad you asked. ;-)

Method #1: You must get enough sleep.

I’ll admit, I didn’t understand this one until I became pregnant last year. That was my big ah-ha moment with this one, so I’m hoping you can learn the easy way (from my advice) rather than the hard way like I did (hitting burnout).

Sleep feels like such a waste of time. A third of my precious day; countless hours that I desperately need to work. Yet I now realize that both my body and brain NEED this time to renew themselves.

In the past, I would tiredly sit in front of my computer for hours and try to eke out more work. Finally, and I’m talking within the last few months, I realized that this was such a waste of time. I was not producing quality work during that time, for sure. I was also missing out on precious sleep that my body needed, so I was starting the next day already worn down and tired. And for what? To maybe get a little more work done, but the fruits of that work was crap anyway.

Instead, I finally realized that as soon as I hit that wall (you know what I’m talking about) when my brain suddenly says, “I’m tired, please don’t make me think anymore,” I’m simply done. I close all my docs and shut down the computer, then go to bed. This allows me to get the amount of sleep I need and start the next day fresh. Then, instead of struggling for two hours to write one confusing and short blog post, I’m able to write numerous organized and thorough ones in that time.

Method #2: Take time to relax!

This is different than sleeping. Sleeping is vital for both your body and brain’s ability to renew and rebuild themselves, but relaxation helps you stay inspired, motivated, and creative. It allows you to dump all your responsibilities and worries, if just for a short time, and focus on things that inspire you, excite you, or simply relax you. Again, this one was hard for me because it takes away from the precious limited time that I have to work on my dreams, while also fitting in my faith, family, friends, and a full-time job.

However, I’ve recently realized how important it is! Just this past evening I had about a million things I needed to get done, especially since life inevitably happened and set me back almost a whole day on important tasks. However, I still made sure I took time to hang out with my hubby, chill on the couch, and watch a movie.

Was I letting precious time slip by where I could be working? Absolutely. But did my husband, my brain, and my body appreciate the time? Unquestionably. And guess what? It was 100% worth it! After my extended break, I went back into my office and hammered out some incredible content. This proves to me how effective it is to slow down and give your brain a break!

Method #3: Try taking a break from caffeine.

I know, I know. This is another one of those pieces of advice that you may have heard a hundred times and just laughed at. But hear me out. I didn’t realize how liberating it was until I became pregnant and was revolted by coffee.

Despite being the most fatigued I’d ever been in my life, I couldn’t have any coffee. Even tea sounded repulsive. I wanted some caffeine, but all the mediums it came in were wholly unappealing. Not to mention, I didn’t want Baby getting a dose of that daily (it’s safe to have up to 200mg a day, but I thought zero was probably best).

A couple years back, I was having gratuitous amounts of caffeine a day. It was almost like a drug. Again, I was working a full-time job, exercising as hard as I could almost daily, and working on my dreams. When I was putting my body through that much strain every day, I thought I needed all that caffeine to keep me going. But in reality, I was probably experiencing adrenal fatigue; a super unhealthy state in which most of us are unknowingly in. If you can ditch the caffeine for a while, you will likely love the payoff!

In summary:

Slowing down can really help you be successful. Your body is resilient, but at the same time it can only take so much. Just getting through our daily lives and all of the responsibilities and boundless distractions we have to deal with is enough, but on top of that you and I are also trying to pursue our dreams. We must give our brains and bodies the time to rebuild (sleep), take a break (relax), and restore their own systems (back off of the caffeine).

Action item:

Reflect on the three methods above. Which ones, if any, are you currently practicing? Do you feel how helpful they are? If you’re not doing any of them, consider some ways you could implement them throughout the course of a month. It’s hard to make major changes all at once, so staggering their start dates will help you be successful with implementing them.

Join the convo! ;-)

Once you’ve tried them out, be sure to notice their effect on your drive and productivity! Then come back and tell us about it!