I read an interesting piece in the book Tools of Titans by author Tim Ferriss, where there was a passage by Derek Sivers about the importance of relaxing and enjoying oneself.
A few years ago, I lived in Santa Monica, California, right on the beach.
There’s a great bike path that goes along the ocean for 7½ miles. So, 15 miles round trip.
On weekday afternoons, it’s almost empty. It’s perfect for going full-speed.
So a few times a week, I’d get on my bike and go as fast as I could for the 15 mile loop. I mean really full-on, 100%, head-down, red-faced, sprinting.
I’d finish exhausted, and look at the time. 43 minutes. Every time. Maybe a minute more on a really windy day. But basically always 43 minutes.
After a few months, I noticed I was getting less enthusiastic about this bike ride. I think I had mentally linked it with being completely exhausted.
So one day I decided I would do the same ride, but just chill. Take it easy, nice and slow. OK not super-slow, but dialing it back to about 50% of my usual effort.
And ahhh…. What a fun ride. I was relaxed, and smiling, and looking around. Not red-faced. I was barely giving it any effort.
I saw two dolphins in the water. A pelican flew right over me in Marina del Ray. When I looked up to say “wow!”, he shit in my mouth. I can still remember that taste of digested shellfish. I had to laugh at the novelty of it.
I’m usually so damn driven, always doing everything as intensely as I can. It was so nice to take it easy for once. I felt I could do this forever, without any exhaustion.
When I finished, I looked at the time. 45 minutes.
What?!? How could that be? Yep. I double-checked. 45 minutes, as compared to my usual 43.
So apparently all of that exhausting, red-faced, full-on push-push-push I had been doing only gave me a 4% boost.
A related combination is that we are rushing in everything to ‘save’ time so that later we can waste hours on Facebook and YouTube. As simple as it gets, the fact is that 6, 7 hours of real work a day is enough for any task or project if done with proper focus. Then, there is always time to relax and enjoy stuff around us.