Eureka Moments & the Value of Taking a Break

How many times have you puzzled over something while staring at the computer, only to gain insight while on a run or in the shower? Do you know the #1 thing I’ve found that builds creativity?

TAKING A BREAK FROM MY WORK.

It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it. But I like to remind my clients of the story of how Archimedes, the Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer born in 287 BC,  solved a scientific puzzle he’d been given – and developed a theory of volume in the process.

Archimedes: the Original Puzzled Technologist

200+ years before Christ, the Syracusan king Hieron II, had given his royal metalsmith a specific weight of gold to be fashioned into a splendid wreathlike crown. But the king had a management problem many of us have faced: he suspected that his metalsmith had been pilfering from the royal coffers. The completed crown, destined to adorn the statue of a deity, seemed to have been cut with less valuable silver, and he suspected the smith had pocketed the unused gold. Hieron tasked Archimedes with establishing the crown’s makeup without sampling or defacing it in any way.

Archimedes knew that gold is more dense than silver. So if a certain weight of silver had been substituted for the same weight of gold, the crown would occupy a larger space than an identical one of pure gold. But how could he measure the volume of the irregular crown?

As the story goes, he was puzzling over this day and night. He was so immersed in his work that he began to skip meals, sleep and personal hygiene (sound familiar?!? I’ve been there!). It got to the point where his wife worried for his health.

“Go take a bath,” she told him.

Begrudgingly, the young scientist took her advice and walked over to the public baths (all the rage at the time). While in the overfilled bath, Archimedes began to relax, and forgot about his work. That’s when he’s fabled to have realized: the more his body sank into the water, the more water sloshed over the top of the bath!

Even though he was irregularly shaped, the displaced water was an exact measure of his volume! Realizing he had hit upon a solution, the young Greek math whiz is fabled to have leapt out of the bath, rushing home naked crying “Eureka! Eureka!”

Eureka Moments

I know as a Marketing Technologist, I personally have had so many Archimedes moments. I’ve had complete writer’s block, or the inability to put myself in my customer’s shoes. Frustrated, I’ll get to a yoga class, sit outside, crack a beer (or all three) – and like magic, the answer comes.

  • Sometimes, leaning into the grind is what I personally need to do to be more productive.
  • But other times, inviting more play into my life leads to flashes of insight.

I’ve come to believe that during these moments of stepping away from my computer, I’m actually allowing my brain to function.

Being playful and playing as an adult is so much fun, but it’s pretty obvious to me that I’ve been trained out of it. I’ve learned to be more serious, to put work ahead of everything else. But what does this ultimately “cost” me?

  • We have learned to give up play because we think playing is for children and frivolous people who aren’t serious about getting ahead.

Well, guess what: play is for everyone, even adults and “serious people. The more you practice playfulness, the more your creativity will flow.

Play helps me do these key things:

  • Reduce my resistance to new things
  • Feel better / more relaxed
  • Access more creativity
  • Become more resourceful
  • Become more successful
  • Have more fun
  • Become more fun to be around!

But There is So Much to Do

 

The Law of Attraction reminds us that we will receive more of what we are putting out into the world. If you start each day feeling optimistic, joyful, appreciative and grateful, abundance is sure to follow. I am living proof: when I put out a clear signal that there is time to play and I know play is good for me, I receive back so much in return!

1. Practice Playfulness & Excellent Self-Care. What’s the point of all of our plans: getting in shape, making more money, or having our own businesses if we’re not enjoying ourselves? A lot of people put the ladder against the wrong building. Their goals and daily practices are not aligned with their life’s purpose, so when they achieve their goals, the cost is their health or their relationships. According to Brendan Burchard, author of “High Performance Habits”, high performers value their own well-being more than any other demographic measured.

“I expected that these folks would be more stressed, their health would be more compromised, they would feel lonely at the top,” Burchard says. “I was wrong.”

Compared to their peers, high performers:

  • Are less stressed
  • Are healthier
  • Are 40% more likely to exercise 3-5x per week
  • Report higher levels of happiness
  • Report having more positive relationships

So if one of your goals is to play more, have more fun or take better care of yourself, that’s okay – and you are probably in great company.

2. Decide What Fun Means For You. A lot of the time adults can’t even remember what they like to do. They’re so focused on their educational background, what they have a degree or training in, or what their career is that they can’t even identify things that they truly enjoy. Or maybe they’ve outgrown the things that they liked to do in the past. If this is you, there are two steps you need to follow:

  • Sit down and make a list of the things that you enjoyed doing as a kid or young adult. Go over your list and highlight things that still sound appealing. I did this and realized that despite a passion for live music, I hadn’t been to a rock concert in almost a decade!
  • Next, think about what you would do if you had all the time and money in the world. Where would you go? What activities would you be doing? You can also try imagining your 90-year-old self looking back on a life well-lived. What would you want to look back on or still be doing? For me, this brought up images of myself reminiscing about trips to fabulous cities like New York City and Paris, skiing the Alps and still doing yoga. You can even Google “bucket list”. You’re looking for ideas on fun things you may want to try. Once you have your list, edit it down to things that seem feasible or that really spark your interest.

3. Set a Fun Minimum. Just as you tell yourself that you’re going to exercise for at least half-an-hour a day (I hope that you’re telling yourself this!), tell yourself that you’re also going to do something fun for at least half-an-hour-a-day. In addition, do the following:

  • Set aside one day a week in which you’re going to have a minimum of two hours of fun.
  • Set aside at least two weeks a year which you’re going to devote entirely to having fun.

4. Put Fun In Your Schedule. Personally, I live by my Google calendar. I know that if I don’t schedule something in that calendar, including fun, exercise, personal development and family vacations, all of these are unlikely to happen. So if you want to play more and have more fun, make sure you put it in  your schedule.

Now, back to work …

At my company MarketIQ, we advise companies

  • Who already have a web presence, typically in WordPress
  • On what they can do (including website UI, shopping carts, auto-responders and more) to help drive engagement and business on their website
  • Who want to get out of the weeds and see a clear picture of what their business is and where they can (and should) go from here to most quickly increase revenue

How to Work With Us

  • Contact me today. If you’re interested in working together, I have a brief questionnaire that will help us both determine if we should move forward. My email address is amanda@marketiq.net, please shoot me an email and I’ll send you the questions. If there is a fit, we can then schedule a Skype or GoogleHangouts to “meet”, go into more detail & get started.
  • Join me for an upcoming talk. I host regular webinars, and you can sometimes catch me in person. Here are some upcoming trainings and talks:
  • Learn more about how to Increase Your MarketIQ on my blog.
  • Get proven, bite-sized, actionable strategies to take your small business from zero to profitable by subscribing to our no-obligations newsletter today. Click here to subscribe.

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