When Needing a Break Becomes Going Into Hiding

We’ve all had those days: your desire to go to work is non-existent, and all you want to do is curl up and read a good book or spend time with your two best friends, couch and Netflix.

There’s nothing wrong with that – everyone needs to take a step away and regroup occasionally. In fact, it can be to your advantage. Taking a break allows us to recharge, which can boost creativity and productivity.

But what if you’ve been feeling this way for a while now? When feeling like you need to take a break becomes perpetual, something is out of balance. And when you’re working for yourself, it can be difficult to incentivize yourself to get back into work mode. If you’re going into hiding and staying there, it’s time to check in with yourself and see if one of these things is the cause:

If you’ve got too much on your plate, your brain might be rebelling. One of the most effective ways to deal with overwhelm is to break down what needs to be done into smaller, more manageable tasks.

If the tasks still feel overwhelming, they are not small enough! For example, if the task is to email someone and you’re not sure what to say so you are hesitating, make the first part of that task a draft or bullet points of the email.

If the breaking down of tasks or organizing them is in itself overwhelming, get some help! Work with a friend or a coach who can lead you through this.

Oftentimes having someone to assist in the decision-making process can help get things moving again. This is why people hire personal organizers or have a friend come over and “sit with them” while they go through things. These people can help keep things moving, and they can provide insight when you get stuck. Whoever you choose should be someone who excels in this kind of organizational processing and has a supportive, positive attitude. You’re looking for help, not for someone to commiserate with or someone who is going to make you feel ashamed of being overwhelmed.

Burn out
If you’ve been pushing yourself beyond your personal limits for too long now, there’s a good chance your body and brain are fighting back. Like it or not, you’re trapped in a human, and humans can only go so long before they need a break. Ignore that need, and eventually you’ll experience that lack of desire to continue (or worse, your body will shut down with sickness and force you to stop altogether).

Tolerance levels are different for each person, so you really can’t compare yourself to others when it comes to how much you can endure before you need to take a break. Pacing is also individual; one person might be able to work at a fast pace for hours before needing a break, and someone else might work more efficiently at a more even-keeled pace and need frequent breaks. There is no “right” ratio – the best way to determine your most efficient work pace and tolerance levels is to observe how you work and how that makes you feel, and then to adjust and compare.

If you’re feeling burned out, you’ll want to ease back into tasks starting with things that you enjoy. Be careful not to insist that you take on too much while you’re getting back into a good flow, or you may find yourself right back where you started.

It’s quite common to want to run away from work when we feel like we don’t know what we’re doing. Fear of failure and even fear of success can keep us from moving forward. And fear of the unknown is a primal instinct – we might get hurt, or worse, something might kill us!

But when fear of the unknown impedes your work progress, it’s time to figure out how to make whatever it is that’s holding you back less scary. And that usually means it’s time to get some help.

Research, customer support, and professional advice can all be useful to figure out what we don’t know. Yes, you must invest time and/or money to acquire the knowledge you need, but if you’re being held back and your business isn’t growing because of it, then it’s worth it.

Every single business must make investments in order to grow. Sometimes this is easy to see, because the investments are tangible – like renting a space or buying a piece of equipment, supplies, or product inventory. But it can be more difficult to make the decision to invest in the acquisition of things like knowledge, confidence, and productivity tools – especially if you think you should already have those skills.

Investing in the things you don’t know how to do is really investing in yourself, whether you learn how to do it yourself or empower yourself to move forward by getting help from someone else. And that’s one of the greatest investments you can make, because that information stays with you regardless of what you do. More ability and less fear? Win-win!

Disappointment / Frustration
If you’re hiding because things aren’t going well, it might help to look at things from a different perspective. First of all, nothing is going to get better while you’re hiding.

Think about a boxer: if a boxer is taking a beating and then the round ends, he gets to go to his corner for a brief break. Obviously, he is disappointed with the way things are going and he’s undoubtedly frustrated that the hard work he’s put into training is not paying off.

He gets a talking to and some water. He might get cleaned up a bit. During that break, the boxer may not want to go back out there. He could do just that and quit, but that would be the end of his career.

So unless he really wants to end his career, he has to go back out. But is he in it? Or does he go in physically and check out mentally? If he checks out, he will most likely be knocked down, if not out.

If he’s really exhausted, or needs more time to get himself back in the right state to try and turn things around, he might try to hold his opponent a lot. Maintenance mode – just get some time to pass until he can muster up some more strength.

But if he has decided that he’s not going down without a fight, he sharpens his mind and thinks faster. He allows primal instinct to take over. He moves toward his opponent rather than backing away, going on offense. He refuses to take no for an answer if at all possible.

It’s the same for work as it is for the boxer – unless you really don’t like what you’re doing anymore and you’re ready to quit, you’ve got to get back out there, even when it hurts. Take a break for sure, and use some time to figure out what’s going on, what you might be missing, and how you might try things differently. Then pick yourself up and try again. That’s part of what being an entrepreneur is all about.

It’s ok to get knocked down – anyone who runs a business gets bruised here and there. And it’s ok to take a break and regroup. To identify a break vs. the desire to hide, look for structure. A break looks like saying “I need to step away for a bit,” or “I need to take the day off from this.” Going into hiding may sound more like, “I don’t feel like going to work today,” or “I’m really busy with other stuff today,” and you think things like this repeatedly and find excuses to avoid work. You tell people you just need a break, but the break lingers.

I say this all the time, because it’s important: if you can’t do something by yourself, ask for help. All successful people have a team! Some of my most successful clients are the ones who have learned how easy it is to empower themselves by picking up the phone and saying, “I’m stuck.” That tiny S.O.S. can be all it takes to get things moving again.

Remind yourself that you’re never really stuck. You always have choices, and you can choose things that can get you back on your path to success in no time.

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