I've said it once, and I'll say it again: 'on' doesn't exist without the 'off'. This is the backbone of my fifth lesson from the UCOP, and it's what we're going to be talking about today.
Simply put, if you don't take the time to rest - and rest properly- you will not reach your goals. You may have a superhero complex, but you are not blessed with superpowers, my friend. You're human. And here's the good news: because you’re human, you’re not made to work hard by day and fight the powers of darkness by night.
You're not built to perform at peak 24/7. You're built to balance, and part of that balance includes making time to rest, whether you want to or not. This brings me to my next point...
Rest and recovery is non-negotiable for long-term success.
Sure, you may be able to push yourself for a bit, but eventually, you're going to break - and it's going to take a long time to learn self-care after a serious stint of ignoring your basic needs. If you embrace balance from the get-go, you'll have a much easier time being happy and reaching your goals.
You're probably familiar with the Yin-Yang symbol. Yin-Yang is all about balance. It's about doing both Yang things and Yin things.
In the Western world - the North American world, specifically- we are very much obsessed with Yang activities. I'm talking working, exercising, talking, partying; all these activities require output from us, and they dry us out on the inside.
It's just like how our bodies require water so they don't wither - and how, in the poker world, the term 'withered' is used to describe people who have played too much - if we don't recharge and rehydrate ourselves (mentally and physically) with rest, we suffer.
This is where Yin activities come in: they restore, replenish and rehydrate our systems. Examples of these sort of activities include reading, lying down and resting, breathing, walking slowly, mediating, and of course the ultimate Yin activity, sleep.
I can attest to the importance of Yin, personally. For those of you who remember me talking about my initial UCOP schedule, it involved mainly playing poker, studying and playing more poker.
I started to feel more exhausted by the venture than I should have, and I recognized that I needed to let something go. I decided to cut the studying and leave it for later. There would be time. I replaced my allotted study time with yoga and with watching things on YouTube that had nothing to do with poker. Balance was restored.
Once I made room for more Yin, I got the energy I needed to push through the toughest part of the UCOP, which was that final weekend.
Now, we know that big goals require sacrifice and we might have to, for example, give up a little bit of rest, but it shouldn't be costing you all your rest.
If you feel like you can't rest, and/or you don't have time to rest, then you're probably taking on too big of a challenge for where you are right now.
Or you may just be trying to do too much in too short a period of time. If this sounds like you, I'd encourage you to take a step back, take a look at the big picture, and try to relax. Realize that if you map out your plan over a longer time period, you will be able to reach your goals in a much more enjoyable - much more healthful - fashion.
You want to enjoy the whole ride; not just the final destination
If you related to what I said about being unable to rest (like you can't fall asleep easily), then you’re going to want to incorporate some unwinding activities into your life. These will help you transition into the ultimate Yin state of sleep. Not passing out, mind you. Working yourself to the point of utter exhaustion is not true rest. It's your system shutting down. True rest is a mindful, purposeful state.
If you think your goal is reasonable, your strategy is reasonable and the time frame is doable, but you still find yourself floundering, then what you're probably suffering from are energy or focus leaks that are stealing your time, energy, concentration and your ability to reach your goal.
Some examples of this would be too much television, social media obsession, other forms of addiction and bad relationships. If you are consumed by anything that doesn't have to do with your ultimate goal, it is obviously going to impact your ability to reach that goal, since much of your energy is being directed elsewhere.
With this in mind, let's get to today's exercise
I want you to pick out three activities or people (or a combination thereof) in your life that are stealing your focus and energy.
Once you've done this, I want you to write down your favourite Yin activity; your favourite rest activity that helps you feel calm and at ease and helps you recover.
You can probably see where I'm going with this: any time you find yourself getting distracted by one of your wasteful activities or people, I want you to replace it with your restful practice. This will help you avoid burn out, since you’re giving yourself permission to recover and get ready for your next bout of work, or exercise or study or whatever you need to do help you actively reach your goal.
In the spirit of leading by example, here's a list of my wasteful activities:
1) Spending too much time on social media and trying to get that dopamine boost from notifications and interaction.
2) Exercising with no purpose. I just burn myself out instead of listening to my body and doing more restorative forms of activity.
3) Eating too much because I don't schedule time to eat regularly. By the time I do eat, I'm starving and I eat until I crash as opposed to falling asleep properly. This means I don't get that quality rest and I start the next day much less prepared than I could've been if I'd made the time to nourish my body regularly.
My favourite restorative activities are massages (Thai or Swedish), float tanks (which many people believe are even more restorative than sleep and thereby the ideal Yin experience) and Yin yoga, which you can learn about here. If you dig what you read and want to make this practice part of your winning poker strategy (and hell, life strategy), I strong suggest you look into our Yin to Win program.
It’s also important to point out that while all my Yin activities provide me the necessary rest, they are not all as portable and cost-effective as Yin to Win. Hiring a masseuse or visiting a float tank are continuous expenses and they’re also therapies that depend on finding another person/facility.
Now, this is easy enough to do on Google, so though I’m not trying to make it seem like a Herculean task, but the Yin to Win program is the only restorative venture that you only invest in once, can take with you wherever you go and use any time you need it.
Now it’s your turn to step up.
Once you've followed my example and written out your biggest energy sinks and favourite restful activities, you know what to do: take what you've learned, get out there, and get stackin'.