I’ve been feeling inexplicably exhausted lately and I’ve have only one desire: to close the curtains and stay in bed all day long. I found myself sitting on my couch at noon in my pajamas, staring at nothing and feeling guilty that I wasn’t getting my work done. Until I realized that it’s time for a ‘BE’ phase. I needed to let go of being in ‘DO’ mode and accept the phase I was in for a while.
I operate in a very cyclical way and I find that there must always be cycles of thought and action, cycles of doing and being, cycles of planning and moving, cycles of running and resting otherwise it’s very easy for me to get lost, exhausted or stagnant. Do you feel that way?
I think we all have an internal gauge that tells us when we’re tired and need to stop and when we’re full and are ready to go.
When we feel that exhaustion and overwhelm creeping up, it’s time to step back and take a break. We need to give ourselves time to stop and ‘BE’ for a moment, digest where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced and learnt from that place. We need to consider where we are now and how it feels. We need to look ahead and ask ourselves: “Am I still headed in a direction that is meaningful or do I need to recalibrate?” And we need TV and popcorn and mindless sitcoms too.
Then when I’m feeling unmotivated and frustrated with the lack of movement, when I’m too self-absorbed and find myself doing nothing but looking inwards and moping and feeling down, it’s time to take action, time to move again and try something new, test things out, make and feel some sort of progress. It is time to move to the ‘DO’ phase.
If I were to take an electricity analogy (to get some mileage from my Electrical Engineering degree!), I would say we don’t operate on batteries with a steady energy output, although we – and the rest of the world! – so often expect that of ourselves. If we did, we would produce until we’re done – until our batteries are dead – and we expire. We simply don’t work that way. We can’t maintain the same mood, mindset, outlook on life and energy output at all times. Humans don’t do that. Captain America action figures do that.
We humans operate on alternating (AC) current (and caffeine!). We are not outfitted with batteries, we are plugged in to the cosmic outlet of a soul-animating universe. And just like the universe, we are not constant. We exist within cycles in between our creation and our extinction. We alternate between states so that we can keep going. We have hormones, moods, bad days, food intolerances, traffic (and chocolate!) that affect the way we live.
We can’t expect ourselves to have a steady state at all times. We have to embrace the variability in who we are and how we operate. Our energy output looks more like a sine wave than a constant. We need to stop and refuel.
Since I’ve become aware of these cycles, I’ve found two very distinct ones, a daily one and a monthly one. Daily I need about an hour of ‘being’, split between morning and evening and monthly I need a week of ‘being’ for every 3 weeks of ‘doing’. It’s a lot, I know, but when I skip the ‘being’, the ‘doing’ suffers. I lose direction, I lose focus, I lose motivation and creativity and direction.
And when I’m full of ‘being’, I am so ready for the ‘doing’ that I hit out at my goals head on.
Maybe take some time today to look back on your own moods and energy output. What are your cycles like? When do you feel a need to slow down and how long does it take you to refuel? What kinds of ‘be’ time can you give yourself in the middle of all the ‘doing’?