Pump the brakes.
For many years, I believed that the trade-off for doing work that I love meant that I had to be going full tilt at all times. Rest felt indulgent and I rarely took breaks. My unwillingness to slow down was fueled in part by money fear and in part by a genuine enthusiasm for whatever I was doing. Ever extreme, I wanted to spend as much time as possible creating. It was happy work. So to step away from it was to step away from something that brought me a lot of joy.
That being said, happy work still requires effort. And regardless of how fixated I get on my current creative projects, slowing down is an essential part of me being able to do my best work. When I get tired I start cutting corners and making mistakes that cost me dearly in both time and money. So I’m working on my ability to check-in with myself more regularly in order to avoid unnecessary stumbles because I’ve started to drag my feet.
After finishing filming my first online class last week and then promptly crashing, I gave myself this week to pump the brakes a little. Next up I’ll be working on some short stop motion clips and voiceovers for my puppets. But before I do that, I needed a week doing work that was moving me closer to launching my class without being creatively taxing. So I designed three websites for my online classes, future podcast, and soon-to-be launched consulting services.
It felt uncomfortable but good to shift gears in this way. I still got a lot done and, more importantly, I gave myself the time to rest that I needed so I could re-engage with the creative part of what I’m making from a place of feeling fresh. Of course, I am very fortunate and privileged to have this choice. And our world doesn’t need more creative martyrs suffering unnecessarily for their art.
Some things I’ve now started checking for to see if it’s time to pump the breaks is how focused I am, if little things are starting to feel disproportionately overwhelming, and if anger is starting to creep into my responses. I’m also looking to see how my body is feeling energetically and if I’ve started to sabotage my routines and/or other stabilizing factors in my life. Because as much as I’m excited to get to where I’m going, I’d also like to arrive able to enjoy my final destination.
What about you; what are you checking for to know if it’s time to pump the brakes?