SoulBeing November 2023 Newsletter
- Climb under cozy covers
- Sleep until spring.
Some days, hibernation seems like a really smart idea. Or if not a smart idea, at least a tempting one. This time of year it is easy for me to feel out of sync. As the natural world slows down around us, our pace as a society seems to be accelerating toward an explosive finish as we prep for holidays and the end of the year. Business and personal pressures alike propel us forward, while every fiber in our bodies is screaming at us to get cuddled up by a fireplace somewhere and just SIT.
I am learning to slow down. Not perfectly, certainly not effortlessly, but I am slowing, slowly.
This goes against every ounce of conditioning I have internalized over several decades of life. I have truly believed – and still subconsciously do most of the time – that relentless hard work is the best predictor of success. I believed punishing myself with grueling hours and high stress to not only be effective, but also noble. I scoffed at the “work smarter not harder” crowd, thinking they were looking for the shortcut like every other slacker (I do still find this phrase problematic, but for different reasons – more on that another time, maybe).
It has taken much active effort on my part to make a dent in this conditioning. The change in perspective that is prompting me to slow down requires faith. I don’t mean “faith” in any religious or even necessarily spiritual sense, but rather faith in myself. Faith in the mission. Faith in perfect timing that cannot be forced.
My personal growth has been intense over the past ten years. I have had to become very comfortable with changing my ideas, opinions, and approaches in the face of new information that presents itself. I now consider this ability to admit “I was wrong, but now know better,” or even better “I don’t have enough information to have a fully formed opinion yet, please enlighten me,” to be a differentiator for me as a leader, and (I hope) the foundation for my ability to demonstrate compassionate leadership.
For many reasons, I was wrong about the effectiveness of punishing myself with relentless “hard” work. But now I know better. And I will do better. As the world continues to scream at us to do more, consume more, make it faster, say it louder, I will keep the pace slow and steady. I will continue to do the quiet work that we know is most needed. And don’t get me wrong, the work itself can be hard much of the time. But working to solve something difficult is very different than driving yourself into the ground in the name of hard work. It is a privilege to do work that is so deeply meaningful, that has such potential to make a real impact. I do not want to squander this privilege by burning out.
This season, I intend to hibernate. My plan looks different than the “Sleepytime Tea bear” image that comes to mind. I will hibernate by giving my body extra rest when it needs it and warm, nourishing food for comfort and fuel. I will hibernate by not overloading my schedule with meetings, or working late into the night after my children are asleep (at least not most nights). I will make time for yoga nidra and meditation and the quieter activities that not only make me feel my best (mentally, physically, emotionally) but also help me perform better when I am working hard.
I will lean into the visceral relief that I feel when I hear the phrase “rest is productive.”
I will remind myself that to survive the winter, even trees must fall asleep. They are still alive, but they conserve resources and allocate energy only to the most important functions. My hibernation this year will include incredible focus, obsessive prioritization, and maybe some extra cups of tea and cuddles with my family. Like the trees and the bears and the hedgehogs and the bumblebees, I will let myself slow down, I will embrace the season, I will have faith that nature knows best.
Wishing you well,