It’s 10:30 PM and you’re still checking email. Your eyes resemble those of a red-eyed monkey living in the remote forests of Nepal. You’ve got a load of laundry in the dryer, and papers spread out on your desk from at least three unfinished projects. In your mind, there is an equal disarray happening. You go over a mental list of clients to call, errands to run, and the dry cleaning you intended to drop off two weeks ago. It’s a jungle in there.
Will you ever find the time to truly dedicate yourself to getting ahead? In your love life, your career, or even a few spare hours to just get on top of the housework? The secret to getting ahead in life might surprise you. It is possible you need to do less, instead of always struggling – and failing – to do more.
We can feel besieged by life’s demands, like a tidal wave is coming, and somehow, if we start bailing water out of our boats now, we might somehow escape the torrent that’s hovering just above us. But this is a clear sign that you might be going about life all wrong. Multi-tasking may seem like the only way to handle the ever-growing responsibilities thrown our way, but there are a few universal truths that you simply can’t ignore:
- Life moves in cycles. There is a time for growth, but also a time for rest. Think of how tress drop their leaves in Winter to conserve energy, and then burst forth with new buds in Spring.
- When we focus on what is dying or not working, something new is always coming forth. This process cannot be rushed, however, and if you pull up the roots of a plant before they’ve grown large enough, you will abort the natural cycle of life before the magnificent buds ever have a chance to blossom.
- All things in nature work collaboratively. If you’re trying to do it all on your own, you’re working against the laws of nature. Plants and animals all work in a cohesive net of cooperation and interdependence. Follow these rules in your own life and you’ll achieve much more, with much less stress.
- Time at rest allows us to ditch the unnecessary. When we get quiet and still we can realize which tasks are truly important and which tasks can be either delegated or even omitted completely.
- As creatures of habit, there are many things we do which may waste our precious time and energy. If we take as little as twenty minutes a day to do nothing, unplug from our electronic devices, or sit quietly in nature, we’ll find new ways of doing things which will save resources.
- Internal pressure to be productive may be creating “more” for you to do. Have you ever noticed that when you are on vacation you are relaxed, but you also seem to have infinite energy to do things from dawn till dusk? If you’ve gotten into a rut, and you are only “doing” to stay busy, without filling your soul or life’s purpose, it won’t matter how much you do, you’ll find that you won’t get ahead. Conversely, putting energy toward things which make you happy, feed your curiosity, or fill your heart, will always give back more than you out into them. This includes work, relationships, and all forms of activity that we engage in – even eating!
- Create positive karma by being still. This will help to reveal which actions you should take. Actions born of silence are always more effective than actions born of fear. You can also try this quiet ritual to manifest your life’s purpose.
The great master, Lao Tzu, taught the concept of wu-wei, translated from Chinese, it means non-doing. Ironically, it is often misunderstood. It doesn’t mean being lazy, or apathetic. Wu wei describes a state where you only take informed, conscious action, and avoid “busyness.” The result is a life of perfection. It is a process of allowing, instead of forcing, of letting good things happen instead of feeling like you need to push a Sisyphian boulder up a steep hill all the time.
When it feels as though you couldn’t possibly manage one more thing, it might be time to do less instead of doing more. Give yourself as much time to do nothing as you possibly can. Some of the brightest, most innovative ideas arise from the quiet stillness. Your next break through likely awaits your commitment to sitting still more often.