Sometimes, pushing harder just doesn’t work. You can threaten yourself, punish yourself, browbeat yourself, and feel bad all you want, but it just doesn’t make a difference. So what do you do?
You take a break. Take an hour, afternoon, or even a whole day off. Do anything BUT what you’re supposed to be doing – without guilt. And then come back and try again.
This method works especially well when it comes to creative pursuits. While I don’t believe in writer’s block per se, I do believe the well can run dry. You can use up all your ideas, and if you don’t replenish the source, you’re going to have trouble coming up with fresh material. And the more you feel guilty about your inability to produce, the more performance anxiety you have. Actors, writers, singers, comedians, and pretty much any creative-type feel this way more often than they’d like to admit:
  • “What if I can’t come up with any more jokes?”
  • “What if I don’t have ‘it’ anymore?”
  • “What if people don’t think I’m funny?”
  • “What if my second book isn’t as good as my first?”
  • “What if I forget how to sing/act/paint?”
If you keep pushing, you get nowhere. The solution is very Zen: You must accept the uncertainty and fear and move with it to get through it. If you fight it, it lasts longer. But if you just give yourself permission to rest, you can recoup your strength and emerge on the other side renewed and refreshed, ready to create again. You’ll have new ideas and new material to draw from, and the creativity will return.
Breaks are also great to reward yourself with at the end of a big project. You have accomplished something momentous, and you need to relax and regain your strength. Just as a marathon runner wouldn’t sign up for a 10K the morning after the Boston Marathon (unless he’s Dean Karnazes), we business-types also need time to recharge the ole’ batteries.
One word of warning: Your breaks shouldn’t last longer than your periods of productivity. If you find yourself constantly “on sabbatical,” take a good, hard look at what you’re doing. And read the next section of this report.  
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