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A lesson from Rico

July 14, 2021

I used to pass a sign by the roadside on the way to my previous job. It announced that every Thursday evening, Rico would be parked up in the adjacent lane cooking his authentic wood fired pizzas. I never got to try one but I gather they were very tasty. 

Why am I telling you this? Because Rico was an unexpected inspiration to me. 

One day in early summer, I noticed the sign had changed. It read “Rico’s gone surfing, see you in September”. 

Here was a wise man who knew that a change of routine and a different horizon is helpful for maintaining perspective and long-term resilience. 

Or maybe he just loved surfing. 

Whatever his reasons, Rico reminded me of the importance of stepping away and I’ve hung on to that lesson now I don’t have HR reminding me to use my holiday or lose it! 

Recovery is part of performance 

An athlete’s training regime sees recovery as an integral part of performance. A routine of ice baths, massages and rest days helps them recuperate and regain their performance level after each race. 

We are similarly depleted by work when we invest a lot of energy in it. To stay happy and successful in a job, we need to remember to build in time to recharge our batteries. 

Easier said than done? 

How easy do you find this? These are the three things I see most regularly getting in the way of people taking a break. 

Guilt: you let everyone book their leave first or feel undeserving of a break – perhaps comparing yourself to Covid front line workers – because you believe that being a good person means putting others ahead of yourself. Resentment and burn out build up, ironically leaving you less able to help your colleagues. 

Control: you believe it’ll all fall apart if you’re not there to direct everything and fix problems. Dispirited colleagues, prevented from using their initiative, lose confidence in their capabilities so when you have to take a break, through ill health say, they aren’t up to the task and your worst fears are realised. 

Fear: working non-stop seems the only option to avoid being swamped, and your identity now depends on being seen to get stuff done. Besides, stopping throws up the awkward reality that you’ve forgotten what else you enjoy doing. 

I hope these aren’t familiar to you but if they are, finding a regular time to down tools for a little bit – an hour here, an afternoon there – might help you start changing these beliefs.

Rico’s inspiration means I will be taking some time off over Summer to do the other things I love: bottling produce from the allotment, walking with friends, watching yet more Marvel films. A little less active than surfing but each to their own! 

Whether you’re home or away this Summer, I hope you enjoy some down time too. 

About me

I’m Celia Clark. I’m a career development coach based in the dreaming spires of Oxford. I help you think clearly about your job, in all its ups and downs, so you can be happy and successful in your work.

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