The harder I play, the harder I slay.

There’s a direct correlation to the amount of creative free “play-time” I allow myself each week and the amount of success, creativity, and new ideas flow into my work life. (AKA: Direct correlation between unwinding and money in the bank.)

I have been considered a work-a-holic. I am no stranger to double shifts, all-nighters, and pouring coffee down my throat repeatedly until my tasks are finished. In the past, when feeling blocked, resistant, or uninspired, I would open my laptop, sit down, stare at the blinking curser on the screen and try to force ideas. Brainstorm. Make Lists. Contact new people.

I had heard somewhere in the mess of the 1,000 self improvement books I have consumed, that play and downtime brought creativity and success to the work place. Unfortunately, with 30 years of working too hard in an obsessive-like fashion, it wasn’t until earlier this year, upon taking an 8-day hiatus from my job to attend a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, that I realized this to be absolutely, hands-down true. It was on that island, filled with laughter, beach sand, and dry red wine that my brain birthed not only my second business, but also the beginnings of my blog, to boot.

Upon arriving, I had made a mental shift and a conscious decision to shut off my brain from all things work. (Holy shit, did I need it.) I didn’t take my laptop out of my bag the entire time and my phone stayed on airplane mode 23.5 hours of the day. Those 30 minutes of connected time was suited perfectly for attempting to re-animate the monkey noises I heard every night for my 3 year old back home.

During my week in Costa Rica, what I like to call my “Costa Rican “brain re-set,” my mind focused on meditation, gratitude, yoga, some night caps, and the beautiful humans I surrounded myself with. This brought extreme and unexpected clarity. I no longer was looking at my work life from inside the “arena.” When you’re in your own arena and you’re battling your own battles, it is very difficult to see what your blockages are. All the blockages just feel normal and like day to day tasks. It’s not until you get the 10,000-feet-up-view from the mountain, looking down into the arena that the blockages become clear and you can see them from a mile away. (This exact scenario is a great reason to hire a coach. They are your 10,000 feet up binoculars.)

Around day 4, without my cognitive permission per se, ideas came flooding in. Not only did they enter my mind at rapid speed, but they were clearer and more direct than 99.9 percent of my thoughts back home. Ideas entered my mind with a clear start, middle and finish and all the details were laid out like a finalized blueprint.

Let me get a little woo-woo on your asses for a second. I like to think of my universal alignment as the holes in a flute and universal ideas as the breath that breathes into the flute. If my holes are clogged with stress, work thoughts, resistance, and fear…the breath will never pass through easily. (IE: the ideas will never make it past my bullshit to resonate with my brain because I am too clogged with Facebook comments, retention percentages, and profit and loss sheets.)

Yes, the breath may squeak by at 10% of it’s ability, and yes I may eventually have some good thoughts and ideas, but who wants their brains working at 10%?

It took about 4 days in the Costa Rican jungle for my clogged flute holes to clear up and I was receiving immediate ideas, blueprints, and follow-throughs laid out in my mind like a perfect charcuterie platter. Because I had committed to not working while there, I pushed them to the side and continued my play for the rest of the vacation, only to realize the blueprints became bolder and clearer by the day.

Is it even that surprising that a child’s mind is filled with ideas and excitement and imagination? A child can have one mystical fairy tale idea after another. Anyone who has spent time with a 4 year old knows that within one hour they could be dressed up as a princess, a nail salon artist, a chef, a unicorn, and before the hour is over they’ve created a zebra out of paper plates and cotton balls, wtf. Yet, as we get bogged down with life, timelines, car lines, deadlines, and aging lines, we somehow forget how to clear our minds and use our imagination. Finding your inner child-like passion for all that life has to give will manifest new ways of thinking that will contribute to your well-being on the regular. Who decided we had to lose our child-like minds at the ripe age of 13? The real question here is, do you have the vulnerability and the courage to tap in and find your child’s mind that’s been covered with mud up for years.

I believe 100% that I wouldn’t have had these ideas if I weren’t clear-minded and hungover on the intoxicating nights of the jungle wildlife outside my tent. I would have continued about my work life back in Kentucky skimming the surface on all my to-dos, never allowing myself the space required to dive deeper into my mental files.

Upon return States-side, I have implemented playtime for myself in smaller increments and have been surprised to see an equal return. I am not necessarily taking off every other week to hit Costa Rica, but I am doing bite size 2 to 4 hour breaks every other day or so to give my brain the breath it needs.

If I am feeling “stuck,” (or honestly if I am doing it right, I notice and jump into action way before I get to the point of actually feeling stuck) I immediately detach from the screen and hit the woods, a trail, a beer, a coffee date with a friend, or get far outside my comfort zone and try a new class. Whether its yoga or rock climbing or painting, I come back to my laptop sharper with airier flute holes, new ideas, a new drive, and a hell of a lot more gratitude for my life in general.

It is in the quiet and stillness and joy and surrender that my creativity flows effortlessly.

Work smart, squad. Take the path of least resistance.

Reassess the voice that tells you success comes from the grind. The hard work and grind is important, but fueling the grind is far more.

#businesscoach #hellyescoaching #play #create #smallbusinessowner #business #thoughtwork #mindset #creativity #lifecoach #worksmart

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