In network marketing we help people understand that they can gain financial independence, be their own boss, set their own hours, and live the life they've always wanted.

For most of us who heard this message and dug in hungrily, one of our dominant motivators was reclaiming dominion over our own time. We were thrilled at the idea of sleeping when we were tired, working when we chose, and vacationing often. We set our noses to the grindstone, threw our backs into it, put the pedal to the metal, and embodied every other possible cliché to describe the hot pursuit of a life of our dreams.

One thing many of us have discovered is that the message is true. We have gained financial freedom, attained true independence, and become economically self-determining. As we try now to explain to others, there are very few thrills in life as high as accomplishing a freedom from financial strain and the corresponding time drain of living paycheck to paycheck. Financial freedom is real, attainable, and thrilling.

Freedom and Goals

Recently, when one of my business partners was leaving his job to build his business full time and begin experiencing the freedom of which he'd dreamed, I gave him a warning against becoming domesticated, by which I meant that it's easy to take the extra time one formerly put into working a job and fritter it away on unproductive and unprofitable activities. I related my experience that there is actually a type of discipline required to live free and productively once released from an externally imposed work schedule. Without discipline, setting one's own schedule can easily drift into wasting one's newfound free time. The trick, I told him, was always to be running for a new goal.

Goal-setting is an incredibly important discipline. It turns our good intentions and best efforts into productive endeavors, and forces us to keep ourselves on track by putting us in tension. True goal-setting exerts a motive force upon the goal-setter, propelling him or her to get out of the comfort zone and get busy taking the steps necessary toward achievement. For network marketing professionals, goal-setting is a way of life. It keeps us on track, makes us sharp, and pulls us forward productively. We have all likely learned the lesson that running without going after a specific, measurable goal is merely running in circles.

Discipline and Downtime

Just as I warned my newly free friend of the dangers of non-specificity when first obtaining one's freedom, there is another warning which should accompany those who pursue goals for a living: sometimes it's necessary to go slow in order to go fast.

When I first entered college as an engineering student, I had very little confidence in my ability to keep up with the other students. They all seemed smarter than me and entirely unconcerned with the difficulty of our subject matter.

Soon I developed a strategy that worked for me. I found that the only way to keep up with those who were smarter was to work harder—much harder. However, this was only possible in short sprints. So I began a routine that served me throughout my college years and landed me at or near the top of my class in several programs. I called it, "Go slow to go fast." This involved working with peak intensity from Sunday night through Friday at around lunch, at which time I'd leave the campus and go play as hard as I had worked.

This combination of intense work followed by intentional periods of play turned out to be just what I needed.

Rest and Recreation

When I started out in network marketing, I completely forgot the lessons I'd learned at college. While still working hard at my engineering job during the day, I would now fill all the rest of my time with building my business.

Years went by ... and my results were mediocre. I took no breaks, no vacations, had no fun, and worse, saw very little in the way of business achievement.

Eventually, I had to rediscover what I'd learned years before: the concept of going slow in order to go fast. I started scheduling little breaks into my calendar—a day with the family at the beach here, a morning with friends there.

After I left my engineering career and began building my networking business full-time, I had to learn the lesson all over yet again. The danger for me wasn't the "domestication" I had warned my friend about, but overwork. In his classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey identifies it as the seventh and final habit, calling it "sharpening the saw," and I gained a visceral, first-hand experience of what he was talking about! I was so goal-driven that I was wearing my axe blade down from all the chopping, never noticing that its dullness was slowing my progress.

Sure enough, reapplying myself to the concept of scheduling in little breaks to rejuvenate me produced dividends almost right away. We are not machines. We cannot just go on functioning at peak intensity and expect that nothing amiss will come from it. Just as we must sleep on a daily basis, so must we unplug from time to time in order to repair frayed nerve endings, rebuild commitments, and reconfirm priorities. Proper rest brings restoration.

Beware the two dangers: domestication on the one hand, overwork on the other. Set goals and run for them, but just as importantly, know when and how to schedule a little downtime to repair yourself. People need you to be at your best. Managing this balance will accomplish precisely that!

CHRIS BRADY is author of A Month in Italy
Rascal and coauthor of the New York Times
Launching a Leadership Revolution.
Together with Orrin Woodward, he leads a
network marketing organization of tens of thousands of people.