Taking Time To Get Back On Track

by Ramona Creel

Inertia At Work

I've overcome difficult personal situations in the past — career changes, a bad economy, crises of confidence, even the loss of another parent. But never before has my life come to such a complete and grinding halt. Usually, I just keep on plowing along at about half-speed, getting fewer things done than normal, but still accomplishing something while I work through the problem. Not this time. My circumstances were so overwhelming and utterly devoid of hope that I hit a brick wall — went from 60 to 0 in about 10 feet. I experienced sheer physical and emotional exhaustion. It was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning, let alone think about trying to communicate with the outside world or keep my business running. I used up all of my energy taking care of funeral arrangements, legal paperwork, financial paperwork, and plans for the estate sale — I frankly had nothing left to give, not even to myself. I hit absolute rock-bottom in terms of output, and I was forced to simply stop. Not slow down, but stop. For the first time ever.

Newton's first law states that a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless stopped by an outside force — while a body at rest tends to stay at rest unless started moving by an outside force. Translate that into sociological terms, and you will understand why it's so easy to stay productive once you're in a groove, and why it's so hard to get back in gear once you lose that momentum. Exercise is a good example. If you can just allow yourself to be acted on by an outside force (for example, a trainer or a gym class or a piece of weight-lifting equipment), you are set in motion — it takes less and less effort to stay with it the longer you consistently work out. But stop for a while (because you got sick, your schedule became too busy, or your gym closed, whatever outside force you choose), and inertia takes over. Once you've come to rest, it's going to take a lot more effort to get back on track. I can tell you that this is true from personal experience. Wink But I'm not suggesting that it's realistic or even wise to try and keep going when you run into an obstacle. Sometimes, an extended period of inertia when you've run out of gas is a good thing — just what you need to then bounce back even harder.

The Physics Of Motivation

To quote the book of Ecclesiastes (or The Byrds, if you prefer) — “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose. A time to plant, a time to reap. A time to laugh, a time to weep. A time to get, a time to lose. A time to keep silence, a time to speak. A time to build up, a time to break down. A time to dance, a time to mourn.” Nothing can grow and bloom and thrive year-round — every creature on this planet needs a period of rest. There's a reason that plants and animals go into hibernation during the winter —  they take a break during the hard season in order to prepare for the spring. And if you try to force a creature out of hibernation too soon, you can kill it. This was my hibernation, a time to rest and heal. And by not rushing things, taking as much time as I needed, I have come back even stronger in the long run.

Newton's third law says that, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Sociologically (again), this means that when you work hard, you need to to take a break. And conversely, by taking that “time-out” to regroup, you will be more productive when your nose returns to its grindstone. I am certain that, had I continued pushing when I was spent, beating my head against a wall when I should have just quit for a little while, I would be in worse shape than ever. But I recognized my limits and took a powder when it got to be too much — I gave myself the gift of time and space, saying no to all of my commitments until I was ready to return to the world. And I have allowed myself to re-enter the water slowly, one step at a time instead of jumping back in with both feet (and drowning in the process!) I know that not everyone has that luxury, that kind of control over his or her schedule — but if you can swing it, it makes all the difference in the world.

I stepped off the career path for an extended period because I had no other choice — but I worried the whole time that I would lose my place in line and people would forget about me. Now I am returning even more sure of what I want to accomplish and how to get there than ever. I feel calm, full of clarity, and ready to tackle each new day. Thanks to this burst of energy, my business is thriving. And I now realize that I have the power to walk away for a bit whenever I need a little to re-evaluate my position and re-invigorate my spirit. That's the best lesson I've learned all year!

© Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.