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Relax: Annual Planning Process – Part 4

Why is relaxing part of the planning process? Some people excel at taking it easy, but others struggle with what to do with themselves when they have off time. You may also feel guilty when you take time to relax. Why do we strive so hard if we have no time to relax and enjoy our free time.

There are two reasons to spend time relaxing as part of the process.

The first reason is kind of obvious. This is Christmas week and preparing for Holiday festivities can be time-consuming. Why push ourselves with so much goal planning and self-improvement if we don’t take time out to enjoy life. Even if you don’t celebrate the holidays at this time, you deserve to take a break. But there is another, more important, reason for this pause in the planning process.

Did you know your brain has two modes of thinking? One is the focused mode, which is used for tasks that require concentration. This is the mode you use when planning, writing or studying. The other mode is the diffuse mode, during which your brain wanders, making connections. Both of these brain modes are useful, but the brain’s diffuse mode is the reason why, when you take a break, sometimes things get clearer.

relaxing ocean beach

Have you ever had the experience of taking a break from a frustrating project and had the answer suddenly appear after a few hours of NOT working on it? Working harder isn’t always the answer. If you look at a difficult problem before bed you often wake up with the answer in the morning. Or, you have your best idea ever….. while you are relaxing in the shower. This is your brain’s diffuse mode doing its job.

The same holds for this planning project. A week off to relax has been scheduled here purposefully, to let your brain think about your goals and how to achieve them in the background.

More About Diffuse Thinking

If you would like to read more about diffuse thinking, here is a good article from another blog that explains it well. Focused and Diffuse: Two Modes of Thinking

If you are really interested in the concept, I recommend taking Barbara Oakley’s free course on Coursera. “Learning How to Learn“. In addition to teaching you how your brain works to efficiently learn things, my other takeaway was finally understanding what a Memory Palace is and how it works. Previously, I had pictured a “Memory Palace” as a term that detectives used in crime dramas to make them appear like geniuses. I didn’t think it was an actual method that real people could use.

If you missed the “overview” post which explains the when, why, and how of this entire process, you can click here to go back and read from the beginning. I generally do this process once a year during December, but anytime your life needs a reset this is a great way to do it!

Next week, when we focus on action planning, you may already have some ideas on how to achieve your goals. You may have also fleshed out your goals or come up with some new ones.

Week 5 – Annual Planning Process – Action Plan

1 thought on “Relax: Annual Planning Process – Part 4”

  1. Merry Christmas!!

    Oooh I love that you have included relaxing in the whole planning process. This is something that people don’t often incorporate. People need to incorporate some rest in their activities. Makes the stress level go down and everything. I found taking breaks between the whole project being helpful. You come back with a refreshed mind. Thanks for sharing this process!

    Nancy ✨

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