4 days. It’s a relative week off when you really think about it. Most of us will try to stretch this 4 days to 5 or 6 with an extra public holiday looming part way through the latter part of next week. With 4 days comes an almost complete week of days free from ‘having’ to be in the office or on the road. 4 days also gives us the chance to really take the time away and get a new location for a little while with home-stays and holidays and the usual quintessential Easter Aussie Camping trip.
These changes in available time, location, obligation and commitment can give us the most liberating time to try new things, set new challenges and perhaps recommit to those things that we said we were going to do back in New Years! Now whilst 4 days may not be the 21 days of regular action required to entrench a new action or habit into our psyche, it can be a damn good start. With 4 days of consecutive mornings to be free of the early morning coffee/commute, we can attempt to spend 4 days spending perhaps 20-30 minutes on actions that may stimulate us and begin to create the desire for a new action or habit.
Now whilst 4 days isn’t 21 days to create a new habit, it can be long enough for us to break an old habit. Whilst forming new actions and creating new regular routines can be arduous and difficult to stick to, sometimes you don’t need to create new things but just change old ones. Some life coaches talk about the 3 day cycle where if you can commit to abstaining from an action (say having a glass of wine with dinner) the repetition of 3 days can establish a new pattern. It’s not a habit yet, but you are establishing a pattern and thus making conscious steps towards enforcing a new habit or behaviour. So with 4 days off - you even have a day to play! But reinforcing new actions over 2 sets of 3 days in a single week can sometimes be the action that tips the scale for new behaviours.
Many of us find the time during this break to get out of the city and go somewhere else. There are great 4 day trips to be had everywhere in the world and whilst we may not be able to fly off to Bratislavia for 4 days trekking around, we can often find ourselves in the car and heading to the family home, or a friends place in Kangaroo Valley or even a small stay in the Blue Mountains. This can be utterly enriching for the creative mind as a new location brings with it new sights, new stimulus and perhaps more importantly - shakes us up out of our regular routine. Without the distraction fo the backyard garden that should really have been tended to, the fence that may be falling down or the bathroom ceiling that needs a good scrub - being away for 4 days in a new location and without those distractions can really free up our creative thinking and our creative way of processing our thoughts.
Jessica Stillman talks about the 4 stages of Creativity and cites these as being:
The first stage is all about gathering information and collating what it is that you want to achieve. The second stage is about stretching your mind and getting goofy. Entertaining the impossible ideas and not editing yourself with restrictions and preconceived ideas of what would and wouldn’t work. The third stage is all about making connections between the ideas and the fourth stage is about formulating the critical connections between these ideas and putting them into practice.
In getting away and on a self induced break, this creative process can be capitalised with new stimulus in the 2nd and 3rd stages. Being surrounded by new locations and landscapes can contribute greatly to the entertaining of new ideas and of new thoughts that may come about completely from being allowed to sit and stir with your thoughts and creativity.
With 4 days free, one could even allocate a single day to each stage of this creative process and perhaps even less so - to a single hour each of the four days. If you are out in the bush or looking at new landscapes it is claimed that this can create a new way of ‘viewing time’. Sitting on a porch and looking at a streaming sunset over a panoramic location can create a sense of awe and inspiration in the individual and this setting is often the best time to entertain thoughts of ‘incubation and illumination’ as the ability to drift in and out of insipired awe and have the perception of time on hand to indulge is best at these points. So if you’re lucky enough to be in these kind of situations over the weekend - go ahead and indulge!
Creative blocks have been shown to be undone by time spent in nature. Having time outdoors helps to breakdown the thought process’ that limit our creative potential.. Studies by Universities in Kansas and Utah have both concluded that participants who took time in hiking whilst being asked to perform a word associations exam performed up to 50% better than participants who took the test whilst remaining indoors. So getting out and amongst it can really create some now ways to solve problems, approach situations or just have those conversations about direction and purpose that sometimes get pushed to the back of the pile in the quest for deadlines and to do lists.
So no matter what you are up to in this lovely time frame where we get the chance to indulge in a little of ‘you time’, make sure you spend a little bit of that time working on the you! Work the creative, create a new action and reap the benefits as we head into winter. The time of change is definetly upon us.