Crystal Clear Clarity From Doing Nothing

Editors Note: This is an outstanding guest post by Zeenat Merchant-Syal of Positive Provocations

This past few months, I found myself in the middle of a personal crisis. Things were changing, growing, and expanding. Many of the goals I had set for my life and my business were manifesting. At the same time, new opportunities were presenting themselves and it was becoming challenging to keep on top of it all, to have clarity about which were the right opportunities to pursue and which weren’t. And things were happening at a pace that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with.

I was starting to notice the warning signs that something wasn’t quite right. My life was starting to feel chaotic, a feeling I don’t like, and out of control, a feeling I definitely don’t like. It was beginning to feel like my life was running me, that these changes and new opportunities were taking on a life of their own and I was merely coming along for the ride. I was having a hard time making decisions about my life and my business, and I wasn’t happy about it all.

So I decided to take a break. I was going to get away from it all and spend some time revisiting both my life and business plans. This was something I had found invaluable in the past, taking the time to clarify my goals, my priorities and my vision for my life. Having a plan and a vision had helped me to achieve a great deal of success in many areas and to stay on track in the past. So my plan for my “break” was to re-work my life and business plans. The Universe, on the other hand, had other plans.

And that was my first mistake. My break was going to be a “working” break , at least in part. Never mind that I hadn’t had a real break in a very long time. You know, an actual BREAK, time where you don’t work at all, where you just relax, kick back, and enjoy yourself. A time out, to renew your body, mind and soul. But it was okay, I rationalized. I needed to re-work my life vision, it was important. And I was still going to get a break because I wasn’t going to work on anything other than my life and business plans. I wasn’t going to answer business email, work on the blog, or any of the numerous tasks I could still do while I was away from the office. And I was only taking my computer along to work on my business and life goals. Yeah right. A nice little story to tell myself to be sure, but deep down I knew better.

And sure enough, the very first night, within hours of my so called break, I was trying to access the internet to check my email. You saw that coming didn’t you? And that’s when the Universe stepped in. While trying to access the internet, my computer just shut down.

Hmmm, not good.

But without thinking much of it, computers do sometimes freeze up and do odd things, I went ahead and tried to restart it. Much to my horror, each time I tried to reboot, I got an error message. One I had never seen before. And nothing I tried to get my computer up and running again worked. It wouldn’t even boot up in safe mood.

Uh oh. Really not good.

Not knowing how to solve the problem and fearful of perhaps wiping the hard drive if I did the wrong thing, I gave up and shut the computer down, and decided to deal with it later. And that was my first breakthrough.

In the past, I would have panicked. I would have felt the need to do something about this situation immediately. Even if it was impossible to do something about the situation right then and there, I would have stressed and worried over it all night long and continued to try and fix the problem. Instead, I decided to leave it alone until the next day when I would try and find a place that could either fix the problem, or at the very least recover my files from the hard drive. Whatever the problem was, there was going to be a solution, and it didn’t have to be addressed right that moment. Whoa, what a breakthrough! So I put the computer away and spent the rest of the evening relaxing with my little girl and a book.

The next day, I had an even bigger breakthrough. I decided to do nothing at all about the computer, at least for now. It could wait. I could live without it for a week. I was on a Break after all. I was comfortable with the realization that whether I took the computer to a repair shop that day or a week later, it wasn’t going to change the outcome. And besides, I knew the truth, if I got the computer fixed that day, I was going to try and work on more than just my life and business plans. I was going to try and get caught up on a lot of other work stuff I needed to do. And now, I couldn’t. As for my life and business plans, I could work on those the old fashioned way, with pen and paper if need be.

So now I was back to the original “plan” for my break, to revisit my life and business plans and try to relax a little too if I could fit that in, but I wasn’t going to work. And that’s exactly what happened.

Well, not quite.

As I said, the Universe had other plans. I prefer to type rather than use pen and paper for a variety of reasons. Without my computer, I wasn’t in any hurry to start writing down my goals, my priorities, etc. So I didn’t. Instead, I spent the first full day of my break eating, sleeping, reading, and just relaxing. And that is exactly how I spent the rest of my break — eating, sleeping, reading, taking walks with my little girl, and just hanging out in the house. I didn’t think about any of the choices I had to make, the changes that were happening in my life, or what I thought I should be doing. I let it all go and thought about — nothing. And the most miraculous thing happened . . . .

When I came back from that Break, I was crystal clear about what I wanted, where I wanted to go, what changes I needed to make, what opportunities I should and shouldn’t pursue, and most importantly, what was right for me. Crystal, clear, clarity. All from doing nothing.

Tweaking Myself

Not only was I clear in what was the right course of action for me to take, it became clear to me that it wasn’t my life and business plans that needed to be tweaked, it was me. My life and business plans, goals and objectives were still aligned with my life vision. However, when you are constantly ‘in motion’ whether that be physically, mentally or emotionally, you can get off center, and loose sight of your priorities and your life vision even if it’s staring you in the face — my life vision and my business goals and objectives hang over my desk where I can see them every day. It didn’t matter. I had lost my center and the ability to clearly and effectively make decisions and choices that were aligned with my life vision. I was allowing myself to be pulled in other directions by the wants, needs, goals and objectives of others. After my ‘time out’, I was back on track, able to stay centered and focused on what was important for my mental, emotional and spiritual well-being and the success of my life vision.

While working on a life and/or business plan can be an invaluable tool, and can help us to stay focused and to manifest our goals and objectives, sometimes, we just need to stop and do nothing, to allow ourselves time to return our center. Whether we take a vacation, or practice daily meditation, or a daily break, we need to take the time to get away from all the things that are trying to pull us in a million different directions all at once, including our own thoughts.

As to that computer problem. Well, it seems “doing nothing” worked there as well. The last night of my break, I was lying in bed and suddenly the answer just popped into my head. The next day, I pulled out the manual, followed a few simple steps, and fixed the problem myself, saving me the cost of taking it to someone else. Had I continued to try and fix the problem myself when my mind wasn’t clear and I was stressed and anxious, I could have very easily made the situation worse and done something to the computer that was irreversible such as wiping the hard drive. Instead, doing nothing initially about the problem, allowed time for my thoughts to settle, for my mind to work the problem out on it’s own, in it’s own time. In this case the answer was how to solve the problem myself. The answer could have just as easily have been to take it to someone else. Either way, doing nothing allowed me the opportunity to gain clarity about how best to proceed in order to minimize my damages.

Now two months later, it is time to revisit my life and business plans, to tweak them to fit my changing vision and goals. And I will, but not while I’m on my regular break.

About The Author

Zeenat Merchant Syal is a Practicing Counseling Psychologist/Spiritual Counselor/Motivational Speaker & Naturopath with degrees in Motivational and Counseling Psychology & various fields of Holistic and Naturopathic Medicine.
Her blog Positive Provocations focuses on Positive Thinking through Healing the Mind, Body, Heart &Soul-Spreading Positivity, Motivations, Inspiration, Love & Happiness.

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34 Responses

  1. I think that doing noting is underestimated. We live in such a fast world, with a constant sense of urgency, that we have a hard time doing nothing. And this is precisely what we need to learn in order to detach and in the end, be more effective.

    • Hi Eduard,
      I agree with you completely…I did learn from experience, that doing nothing is infact Something Awesome, given the grander scheme of things. Amazing right 🙂
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Appreciate it 🙂
      Much Love~

  2. Roman Soluk says:

    Thanks for this nice post! As always it’s a pleasure to read this blog!

  3. rob white says:

    Great story Zeenat.
    When we can relax and let infinite intelligence speak to us we will never be led astray. Sometimes it takes letting go and stop forcing and pushing against the world. The biggest obstacle to our superlatively creative nature is our selves. I have found that when I stop pushing the creativity will flow through me.

    • Hi Rob,
      Youre like a sage when you say “let infinite intelligence speak to us we will never be led astray.” Bow to you 🙂
      Stop pushing and doing nothing is somehow the best way to be the most creative and productive…..running behind the humdrum of deadlines really hampers the product right …:)
      thank you fro your comment here. Appreciate it.

  4. Amit Sodha says:

    This is an amazing article Zeenat. I only just realised that doing nothing can be very powerful because doing nothing = just being. It’s like they often show in the movies; when the heroine is stuck with a problem, when they stop thinking about getting an answer the answer just comes to them.

    Thanks so much for your contribution to the blog and leaving your footprints here. 😀

    • HI Amit,
      My footprints could be all over the place 😉 But i prefer to leave them where they will be appreciated. Your blog is such a wonderful spot to just sit and take everything in. I love coming here..and reading you 🙂
      Thank you for this opportunity. I think first an ipod and then this. By God i think I have to do something for you now. Let me know If I can do anything anything at all for you.
      Much love,

  5. There is something about disconnecting and truly taking a break. I spent two weeks in Europe without compuer or mobile phone… and it was relaxing. I had disconnected before but never to this extent. Taking a break is kind of like a lost art – and that break is something we all need to do every now and again.

    • HI The Exception,
      I agree with you…a lost art it is. Since i took this break, I have made it a point to take out atleast 1 day a week to do just this. Nothing. It helps so much. Somehow just lets you recuperate and regenerate.
      Thank you fro sharing your thoughts here.
      Much Love,

  6. Farnoosh says:

    A break from everything, Zeenat? How can you? 🙂
    Just kidding – I enjoyed reading your story and I’d been wondering where you have been for a while….I took a break for 8 days visiting friends from childhood and then cousins in two different cities – no computer and an iPhone that gave me no signal in Canada! I scheduled my posts in advance, didn’t think about work at all, and left my husband in God’s hands 😉 LOL! Now i am back to chaos but boy was it nice to not be attached even to the Mac that I so love!

  7. Hi farnoosh,
    So nice to see you here 🙂 And your break sounds amazing. I’m sure so many ideas cropped in while on the break and when you came back…
    I have now made it a make one day a week ‘break day’, when I just relax, which means no chores(which is a big deal cause I have a 3 year old), no work, no thinking, nothing. Just relaxing with the family, playing, watching sitcoms and ordering in. Ahh…its bliss. And come monday, I’m ready to conquer the world ;).
    I’m heading over to your lovely blog home right about now 🙂
    Lots of love,

    • Farnoosh says:

      Zeenat I am proud of you – bask in your one day a week break. You are VERY smart to do it!!! I should do that for at least a few hours a week….You have inspired me :)!

  8. Mel says:

    It’s so important to ‘do nothing’ occasionally. I use this technique as part of my own stress relief on a regular basis and it’s also part of my 7 step programme for my clients – because it works!

    People very rarely do absolutely nothing anymore, we’re always watching, reading, listening or doing so to just BE is a great shock to the system but it really does de-stress you and helps you to refocus.

    Thanks for sharing the story.

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