We Americans are obsessed with work. The more we work, the faster we’ll get ahead. Time off is time wasted. Go, go, go!  

Well, slow down a minute. Are we sure it’s a good thing to always be in overdrive?  

Metaphor No. 1: Even a high-powered Tesla needs to stop and recharge before its batteries are drained. Maybe we need to reconsider the pace at which we’re going. Maybe there’s a better way to go. 

It’s important to consider alternative approaches to achieving goals. 

Metaphor No. 2: What if life is not a sprint but rather a marathon? “Run Less Run Faster,” a book published in 2007 and now in its third edition (2021), was written by Furman University professors involved with the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST). It is a popular read for those training to qualify for the Boston Marathon. 

The authors dispel the myth that the best way to train is to rack up as many miles as you can, as fast as you can (i.e. go, go, go!). Their research points to a different approach, one in which you run only three days a week and at varying distances and speeds. Those days following a run are for rest and/or cross-training (not running). 

The days off help repair and restore muscles to enable you to run even faster than before. In other words, the days of rest are just as important as the days of running.

What we can learn from Teslas and Boston Marathoners is that down time is definitely not wasted time. Down time is actually vitally important. The rest helps us to recharge, repair, restore, rejuvenate, reenergize. It also helps prevent burnout, a common ailment among those of us pressed for productivity.

Often we gain more by doing less. 

Metaphor No. 3: Stop and smell the roses. When we try to get so much done in the course of a day/week/month/year/lifetime we frequently gloss right over the good stuff. And the more activity we try to fit into our world, the faster time seems to fly by. What have we missed? What have we lost?

I’m not suggesting that you show up for work only three days a week. I’m also not going to offer yet another metaphor. But consider giving yourself time periodically to pause and recharge your batteries. Then, get out and run your marathon.

Tom Henz is an adjunct professor at USCB, as well as director and facilitator of the school’s Center for Strategic Planning. uscb.edu/csp