by Sean Croxton
About 10 years ago, when I worked for Todd Durkin I learned the art of color-coding the calendar. If I remember correctly, green meant Green Machine, yellow meant Mellow Yellow, and red meant STOP.
Green Machine is when you’re working your tail off, helping as many people as you can, making a contribution to the lives of others, and earning a good living doing it.
Mellow Yellow is when you tap the breaks a bit and slow things down. The fitness crowd may call this “active recovery”, when you back off on your workouts, reduce the intensity, and allow the body to recuperate before heading into another training cycle.
The color red is the universal signal to STOP. Break time! However, red can also indicate an emergency. And unfortunately, for some folks, it can take a real crisis — typically some kind of stress-induced health challenge — before they are forced to call a time-out from their overscheduled and undernourished lives.
Now I won’t lie to you and tell you that my Google calendar resembles a stop light. There are no green, yellow, or red weeks. But I will tell you that since I learned about Todd’s system way back in 2001 I have always been mindful of not only how I expend my energy but how I recover it as well.
For example, when I was a personal trainer I would take it easy during the summer months, working maybe 10 hours a week, just enough to pay the bills and have some fun. In an occupation known for burnout (my buddy Chris even wrote a book about it), I think these Mellow Yellow summers were what kept me going for as long as I did.
A few years ago, I even took an entire summer off, woke up without an alarm, spent many days with my feet in the sand and eyes on the ocean, and BASICally had the time of my life on the corner of 10th and J.
And as you probably already know, I take at least a month off from UW Radio every year.
I guess you can say I’m a master at recharging my batteries.
And thus my monthlong absence from this blog and the YouTube channel, and my several-days-long respites from Facebook and Twitter lately.
I needed a time out.
To be totally real with you, the Paleo Summit kicked my tail. Royally.
Note to self — Never launch a huge online conference when your web developer is on vacation in London and your assistant has the week off. Not a good idea, self.
I won’t go into all of the details of my sleep-deprived nights, customer service nightmares, and the fact that I couldn’t sleep for the life of me after the summit ended.
All I’ll say is that the summit ROCKED SOCKS, and it was worth every single behind-the-scenes crisis…and then some. Thanks so much for making it such a successful event! I appreciate all of the really cool emails you guys sent me that week. They really kept me going. You guys rock!!!
At the end of it all was a ton of fulfillment, a strong sense of accomplishment, and a big ol’ red light shining down on me.
I was never one for emergencies or health scares, so I stopped. And for the past month I have done pretty much next to nothing, with the exception of keeping the radio show going, getting my finances in order, and coming up with some ridiculously wicked ideas for where this blog will be going in the very near future.
It’s funny, the best ideas come when you’re not trying to come up with them. It’s true!
I didn’t plan on posting anything here until Monday. But this is what a little red time will do to you. It will relight your fire and have you up at 11:42pm ready to get back to what you do best. Before, I couldn’t sleep because I was overworked. Now, I can’t sleep because I can’t wait to go to work! That is the essence of red.
Get a little red in your life. You don’t have to take a whole summer off like me. That’s simply not realistic for most folks. But you can plan a vacation — or in my case, make it a stay-cation. Or you can use up a few sick days and hang around the house in your Superman pajamas watching movies on your laptop. I did a lot of that.
Hang that carrot out in front of you. Give yourself something to look forward to when your batteries start to wear down. It makes a world of difference.
And come on back to this blog on Monday. That’s when I’ll be unveiling the next chapter in the ongoing evolution of Underground Wellness.
Red light mode involves a lot of quiet time. That’s when you learn a lot about yourself.
Who knows, you just might stumble upon a new passion…
Red time is hard to fit in for me, but thanks for the reminder. We all need it. I find most of my best brainstorming creative moments come with the earbuds in the ears riding the mountain bike. Something about the fresh air and blood low to the brain seems to work…
Keep it up Sean!
I totally agree! In North America we are conditioned to ‘go go go’. Even the typical 2-3 weeks off a year is ridiculous. Life is so much more than work, well it should be. Even if work is something you love.
Good for you for taking that well-deserved break!
I hear you, Jon! Red time can be challenging for a new Dad. Get in what you can, my man!
Great seeing you at IHRSA.
THanks Sean! Encouraging post this morning. Because of your red lights we got to hang out too! Looking forward to doing it again soon brotha. Keep up the amazing hard work.
I totally agree, Brenda. I LOVE what I do for a living, but even I need some down time. I couldn’t imagine what it’s like for those who don’t like their jobs. North America in general needs more rest and more play. Like you say, life is so much more than work.
Thanks for reading!
Heck yeah, Francisco! It was awesome meeting up with you. Sorry we bombarded you with information!! Let me know when you want to hang out again. Fridays are best!
Glad to hear you’re getting this right, Sean. Keep on motivating and inspiring others, my friend