ˈbrākˌTHro͞o/ noun: a sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development; an instance of achieving success in a particular sphere or activity
Notice how the buzzword “breakthrough” is everywhere?
Breakthrough thinking, breakthrough performance, breakthrough earning, breakthrough conversations, and my personal favorite: breakthrough diet pills that make or keep us thin while we lounge on the sofa eating as much of any ol’ thing we want.
I googled “breakthrough” and “book titles.” In seconds, nearly 14 million results popped up.
Little wonder breakthrough is en vogue. It sounds so enticing, a secret unveiled, like winning the lottery or some starlet’s big break. Some dramatic event that will take you from zero to hero or rags to riches; a sudden leap that will change you, and your life, forever.
While you may sometimes wonder what it would be like to win the lottery, I doubt you’re fooled with such magical thinking. Rarely will one breakthrough change the course of your life. There’s no such thing as being an overnight success, just like there are no free lunches. Heavens, even lottery winners find that the breakthrough, the big break of winning millions, wasn’t sustainable and didn’t result in what one might call success. Don’t believe me? Read 10 Lottery Winners Who Went Broke.
Yet there’s a strong urge to believe in breakthroughs, in that one transformative event, development, innovation or opportunity. American novelist and literary critic, Walter Kirn, gives us an explanation:
The success that Americans are said to worship is success of a specific sort: accomplished not through hard work, primarily, but through the ingenious angle, the big break. Sit down at a lunch counter, stand back up a star. Invest in a new issue and watch it soar. Split a single atom, win a war.
Kirn’s commentary hits an eerily familiar chord. Perhaps “create an app” is the new split atom?
The more inundated we are with the breaththrough buzzword, the more we begin to wonder: If I’m not having a life-altering breakthrough, what’s wrong with me?
Even though we’ve all read about Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours, and heard the oft-cited phrase, “it takes 20 years to become an overnight success,” the breakthrough allure sneaks up on us, planting seeds of doubt right along with the buzzword’s deceptive promise.
So let’s peel back the power of this buzzword. Forget about a big break. Push aside thoughts of breakthroughs for now. We all realize deep down that what’s really required to succeed is hard work and hustle. To work and hustle well, we absolutely must take breaks.
5 Daily Breaks
Take Naps. Naps increase alertness, improve our learning and memory, improve our moods, stamina and our health. (Sarah Mednick, PhD, Unleash the Power of the Nap)
Get Unplugged. Keeping up with email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all the other 24/7 “screen” time activities is bad for our brains, our relationships, and bad for our productivity. (Sophia Brine, Why Everyone Should Unplug This Weekend (And the One After That))
Daydream Daily. Daydreaming restores energy, sharpens focus, and heightens creativity. “Your best thinking occurs when your mind wanders.” (Will Willimon, The Importance of Daydreaming)
Slow Decisions Down. Instead of making rapid-fire decisions, break, slow down, and use the 10 x 10 rule (Suzy Welch). How will we feel about it 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months from now? How about 10 years from now? (Chip & Dan Heath, The 10/10/10 Rule for Tough Decisions)
Touch the Ground. There’s wisdom behind the old sayings “keep your feet on the ground.” There are healing benefits to getting those shoes off, getting your bare feet on something natural whether that’s grass, sand, or plain old dirt. (Erica Sofrina, The Healing Benefits of Walking Barefoot)
Give yourself permission to let go of any energy you may be spending on this breakthrough and big break nonsense. Focus more on making breaks a part of your daily routine. I promise you, this will give you the best chance of actually building the success and wellness-filled journey you desire.
Take your breaks!