Perhaps the area of greatest confusion regarding the philosophy of “Relax Focus Succeed” is the Relax part. After all, we live in a society that does everything but relax. We are constantly on the go-go-go. So, what do we mean by relax? Can you kick off your shoes, plop down on the couch in front of the TV, and become successful? No. Obviously not.
“Relaxation” takes in a set of activities that bring Balance into your life. It includes taking care of the physical and mental parts of your body. This includes
and time for quiet thought.
These three aspects will contribute immensely to your success.
Within these areas, you have many options. But you have to actively participate in bringing balance into your own life. No one else can do that for you. Even if they could, no one else will.
If you want to have a focused, successful life, you need to take time to take care of your body. And your mind. If you don’t do these things, you can’t be successful in your business or personal life. Why? Because you can’t be successful if you don’t know what success means to you. And that can only be achieved through balance.
What counts as relaxation?
Ah! There’s the million dollar question. Let’s look at the three aspects mentioned above.
The easy one is Exercise. You know what real, legitimate exercise is. If you don’t, you’re not being honest with yourself. You need to do two kinds of exercise: One that helps your circulation and one that helps you with strength. Some kinds of exercise do both (such as bicycling or swimming).
You need to exercise at least four times a week. It doesn’t matter whether you do it in the morning or the evening, alone or with someone else. But you have to do it. The more you move your body, the longer God’s going to let you keep it.
The second aspect is more difficult: True Relaxation. “True” relaxation means that you take time to let your body and mind slow down and stop “working.” Perhaps the most important thing here is what doesn’t count as true relaxation.
True relaxation does not include watching TV, getting lost in your hobby, golfing, reading a work-related book, playing cards, or any activity that requires your mind to be “on.”
True relaxation means that you’re NOT engaging with other people, not turning your mind off completely (e.g., television), not focused on something so hard that your mind isn’t actually able to think about other things (e.g., hobbies).
The point of True Relaxation is that you stop working, you stop entertaining, you stop interacting, you stop focusing outside yourself, and you begin to spend time getting to know yourself. Who are you, really? Are you happy? Do you like your job? Your friends, your car, your cat? What do you want to do with your life?
Very few people take time to stop and spend time with themselves. I firmly believe that all mid-life crises consist of people realizing that they have been running full speed ahead for twenty or thirty years without any idea where they’re going. Then, suddenly, they stop and realize that they don’t how they got where they are. And maybe they don’t like it. And maybe they don’t know whether they like it, but they resent the fact that they got there without really choosing to be there. Life pulled them along. And now, suddenly, they want to choose what to do with their lives.
With no maps and no focus and nothing to bring meaning to their lives, too many people wake up one day and realize they haven’t been participating at a meaningful level in their own lives.
Sadly, many people in this situation give up, walk away, get divorced, quit their jobs, and try to start over. Instead of looking at what is good in their lives and evaluating the right decisions they’ve made, they throw it all away and don’t keep even the good things they have.
So, what does True Relaxation do for you?
The first thing it does is give you time to be with yourself, to think about yourself. Second, it is a step toward contemplative thought or quiet thought.
True relaxation does include the following:
- Reading a book that doesn’t require you to think.
- Praying or Meditating.
- Relaxing in a hot tub or similar activity that does not allow you to also do something else at the same time.
- A long walk without a walkman or someone to talk to.
The pattern should be clear. This is time you spend with yourself. You don’t have to “actively” think about anything. You shouldn’t be trying to work on a puzzle or fix a problem or figure out what to do about something.
You need this time because you have to get to know yourself. This is the first step toward Quiet Thought.
In True Relaxation, there is no attempt to put your life in order. There’s no attempt to plan or focus. With Quiet Thought, however, there is some work. You do spend time putting your life in order, focusing, planning, and improving yourself.
Activities in this arena include Journal-writing, goal-setting, and reading books and magazines that help you improve yourself and your life.
It is very easy to see how Quiet Thought contributes to your success. Just as you need to exercise your body in order to make it last long enough for you to enjoy it in your old age, so you need to spend time exercising the contemplative side of your life.
Everyone needs to find a combination of these “relaxation” activities: Exercise, True Relaxation, and Quiet Time.
Sometimes the lines between these blur. Some exercise, for example, allows plenty of time for True Relaxation or Quiet Thought. Running is a good example. Exercise on any equipment with a bookstand is an easy combination.
You should do one of these three types of activities every day. It can be for 10 or 15 or 20 minutes. Over time, you will look forward to this relaxation period and it will grow. Ideally, it will be an hour a day.
I have a reminder in my Outlook calendar that simply says “RFS” every day. Some days I do yoga, some days I ride the exercycle, some days I meditate, some days I read, some days I write or do goal-setting. But I try to do something every day.
Remember what Og Mandino says: “Form good habits and become their slave.”
Be Patient with yourself! Some of these activities may be unfamiliar to you. Perhaps you’ve never meditated or you don’t exercise. Many people avoid quiet time with themselves because they have problems they want to avoid.
Success means attaining your goals. But you have to set those goals. And before you can set the goals you have to know what makes you happy and where you want to go and what you want to do. Relaxation is about thinking, getting to know yourself, and working on becoming your future self.
For now, don’t worry about how to get started. Plan to wake up 30 minutes early tomorrow. Sit in a quiet place by yourself and think about the kind of activities you want in your RFS time. Don’t worry: There aren’t any wrong answers. You’re on your way!