This is a guest post written by my brother (who is also the editor of The Soulful Nib).
We, as children, were taught a lot of things by the way of proverbs. Moral stories were quite popular. In the vast universe of proverbs, there are two which come to my mind when it comes to motivating people to work hard and achieve their dreams.
“Try and try till you succeed” and “Practice makes perfect”.
These are some of the sayings that come our way even after we grow up. And it has been repeated so often that it has been instilled in our minds that the only way to succeed or get better at something is to keep trying, to keep practising and work harder and harder till we get what we want. And there is nothing wrong in these sayings.
But since these are all one-liners with no asterisk mark saying “Conditions Apply”, we take them too literally. We see them as the ONLY way to do something. We don’t realise that there are in fact clauses and conditions, exceptions and over-rides. Most of us realise this one way or other.
I learnt this thing the hard way. I had decided to take up Running as a form of exercise almost 1.5 years ago. Due to a lack of physical activity in my childhood, I did not have sufficient stamina to run for a long time. When I had just started out, I could run for a maximum distance of 1km, that too with great difficulty and pain. But I kept going at it thinking I will improve.
And I did improve. I went from 1km to 2km in no time. And then from running 2km in half an hour to completing it in 20 minutes. But then once I hit around 2.5kms, I seemed to hit a plateau. For nearly 3-4 months I could not get myself to run more or faster. It seemed like I had hit my limit. I kept seeing social media posts from my friends who run 5-10kms almost every week and thought that I must be doing something wrong.
With the never-ending barrage of “Hustle” posts or “Winners never quit” posts, it felt like all I had to keep going at it. Push myself harder. That I should not listen to the inner voice which begged me to stop as I was approaching my limit.
But that did not help. I was stuck. Nothing seemed to work. One day when I was running with a session from Headspace playing, the discussion focused on how some people strain themselves a lot in trying to improve their performance. The “coach” suggested that some times all we need to do is take a break. Just stop. Take a few deep breaths. And then start again. Co-incidentally, this just happened to be at the moment I was reaching my “limit”. Normally, at this point, my fight with my inner voice would’ve started wherein I would try to keep running while ignoring the call to stop. But this time, I decided to stop for a few seconds. Take a few deep breaths. And then have a go.
And it worked. I ran a lot more. So much more than I was surprised as to how a break for only a short while can have such a huge impact.
So, you see, trying and trying till you succeed works. But you need to realise that nowhere does it say that taking a break is not allowed and that all your benefits will be negated if you stop for a while.
It is okay to stop. It is okay to take a break. For a few seconds, days or weeks. It is okay.
As long as you are taking a break with a purpose, it is fine. In some cases, it might also be fine to abandon the effort altogether and try something new as the circumstances would have changed so much from when you started that the goal is no longer relevant.
Set lofty goals. Stretch your physical and mental abilities. There is immense satisfaction to be gained from these pursuits. But always remember to take a break when you feel like it. A tired mind and body will not be able to achieve a lot. So, give it a rest, recover, and then dive in for more.
Until next time, stay blessed!
Image created via Canva