Is Constant Striving Really the Way to Be More Productive? | Intuitive Business Woman

The pressure and pace of our modern world makes so many of us feel like we have to push push push all the time. We want all good stuff, all accomplishment, all high-energy, and we want them all the time.

But just like we can’t have summer all year round, we can’t be constantly striving to produce and accomplish. Our bodies and minds need rest; they need winter.

In this article I offer you my own story as inspiration; as well as some practical suggestions for how to relax some of the pressure on yourself.

My Own Recent Change of Seasons

The last couple weeks of August was an incredibly high-energy time for me. I got tons of writing done, I set up a number of systems for automating my social media platforms, and I attracted a number of great opportunities to promote my work – the most exciting of which was a publisher for my next book.

I was firing on all cylinders and had a long list of additional goals I wanted to achieve.

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But last Monday as I was planning my upcoming week – with my long list of goals in hand – I noticed we had the New Moon Solar Eclipse coming up a few days later, on Sept 1.

Since I almost always feel a shift of energy with the New Moon, I paused to acknowledge that the energetic high I’d been on was probably going to be changing pretty soon.

And sure enough, Tuesday & Wednesday found me doing a lot of socializing and personal to-do’s, rather than continuing to make headway on the work-related projects I’d hoped to accomplish.

This trend continued into the long Labor Day weekend. Prompted by an assignment from my coach, I spent most of the weekend journaling & meditating – despite the fact that I’d hoped to spend Labor Day weekend writing the first three chapters of my next book.

Am I saying that because the heavens shifted I no longer had control of my work and my life? That I was at the whim of the heavens, no longer the master of my own destiny?

No, of course not. I certainly could have made the choice to knuckle down and force myself to keep working on my intended projects, rather than indulging in some personal time.

But experience has taught me that the work I produce during a knuckle-down period is rarely my best.

When to Push Through and When to Wait for Inspiration

Sure, there’s something to be said for the pressure of a looming deadline. But that kind of external pressure is usually most valuable when it gets us to FINISH a task.

When we’re just kicking off a project, or when we’re in the creative throes of the middle of the project, the energy we need most is INSPIRATION. And inspiration is something that simply can’t be forced.

(Well, not usually. But in this post from the IntuitiveBusinessWoman archives, I offer “Creativity on Command: 2 Sure-Fire Methods for Prompting Inspiration to Strike”).

So I allowed myself to relax into a period of rest. A period of focusing on internal concerns, rather than external ones.

And I did so trusting that inspiration would return soon enough – and with it, the surge of energy that would propel me to another period of big accomplishment.

… And Then We Wait Some More

As of this writing, that surge of inspiration and energy hasn’t yet returned. I continue to be in more of an inward-facing energy. I’m enjoying personal time with friends, sleeping a lot and I even indulged in the Downton Abbey marathon on PBS this past weekend.

Whereas a previous version of me would be quite concerned about this state of affairs – “Enough’s enough already! You took a couple days off, now get back to work!” the kinder, gentler wiser me appreciates that inspiration will return when it returns. And until it does, there’s nothing wrong with taking it easy.

[Update: Inspiration did in fact return within a few weeks – and when it did, I saw that what I had thought I wanted to accomplish before wasn’t the best path after all. I got a much better result because I waited for authentic inspiration to return, than I would have gotten if I’d forged ahead with my own initial plans.]

Let the record show, that even during this period of slow-down, I haven’t completely fallen off the cliff. I am still taking care of what I “have” to do:

  • I’ve kept up with all my client meetings
  • I finished this article in time to go out in my weekly newsletter
  • I’ve managed all my social media accounts every day

The fact that I’m keeping up with all my obligations – including my various forms of online promotion – is what reassures me that my current slow-down isn’t a flare-up of my Visibility Wound.™

A Visibility Wound™ flare-up is when you don’t just stop being productive, you retreat from the world altogether. In other words, you stop being willing to be seen. Click here to read more

Your Turn

Here are a few steps to help you move toward being gentler with yourself when inspiration is eluding you:

  1. Ask yourself, “What do I absolutely have to do today?” and write it down.
  2. Double-check each one of the items you wrote down: “Do I really have to do that today?” Scratch off anything that isn’t a true must-do.
  3. For the items remaining, ask yourself, “What will be the consequences if I don’t complete this item today?” and write down your answer.

Important: Don’t skip the final step of writing down the consequences. These consequences are your fears, and as long as they’re only in your head, they are as big and scary as monsters under the bed.

But when you force them out into the bright light of words on a page, you often see that they aren’t nearly as scary as you thought they were.


Julia KlineFor help increasing your productivity, consider hiring me for private coaching. I offer packages starting as low as $2,500, or up to $20,000.

To start the conversation, email my assistant [email protected]. She'll send you my coaching brochure, describing all that I offer. 

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