A Story with a Message for You - Expat Nest e-counselling


A Story with a Message for You

Once upon a time, there were two woodcutters…

They worked side by side each day. The one woodcutter worked eight hours a day without stopping and managed to fell 10 trees.

The other woodcutter, who occasionally stopped and mysteriously disappeared for 20 minutes, managed to fell 14 trees.

same thing happened the next day, and the next, and the first woodcutter
became determined to work even harder and faster. Occasionally he
felled 11 trees, but sometimes he dropped to 8 trees a day, while his
colleague maintained his steady pace.

day, after his colleague had returned from one of his mysterious
disappearances, the first woodcutter, asked: “You spend fewer hours on
the job and yet you cut faster than me! Where did you go?”

“I had to sharpen my axe,” the first woodcutter replied.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Though we aim to be
more environmentally sensitive today, this short story offers an
inspiring metaphor, reminding us of how important it is to pause and
“sharpen our axes”.

If your immediate reaction is “But I’m too busy to take a break”, this is exactly why you need a break!

By allowing ourselves time to
recharge, we return to our work, our relationships, our lives, feeling
even more productive, inspired and effective.

Today’s message is an
important one for this time of year, when it’s easy to rush straight
into the festive season and get swept up by the parties and gift
shopping and family visits and duties and expectations and…

… only to find ourselves exhausted all over again.

Taking time off – completely – is absolutely necessary for our health and wellbeing.

Some of us will find
this challenging. Disconnecting (especially from our technological
devices) can feel strange and unfamiliar after the habitual busy-ness of
our lives. You might even find yourself feeling at a loss, bored, or

Just sit with the feeling for a while.

Give yourself permission to step away from the stress.

Allow yourself to unwind, slow down.

As we head into the
festive season, give yourself the chance to break the pattern of
constant “doing”. And if you only manage to disconnect for one day,
great, it’s a start!

P.S. Thank you to Marco Santos for sharing the woodcutter’s story with me.

How will you create the space to rest this festive season? Do leave a comment below!


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to our newsletter and share the article with a friend or colleague who would appreciate the reminder to pause and recharge!

© Vivian Chiona



  1. Aruknathan John says:

    The need to sharpen pne’s mental and physical “axes” to gain strength and renewed perspective for the life journey cannot be underestimated. Even management guru Stephen Covey attested to this. It definitely makes sense and we need to make time for the recharging times in our work and life.

    1. Hi John
      Thanks so much for your comment and amen to what you’ve written: ‘we need to make time for the recharging times in our work and life’ 🙂
      As always, a big thanks for being such a valuable member of the Expat Nest community.

  2. Funmi says:

    This is interesting as it highlights how we often feel more productive when we overwork ourselves when, in reality, allowing ourselves to take breaks when necessary boosts productivity. The irony of this is that we add more stress to our lives when we don’t even need to. As the famous proverb goes, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

    1. expatuser says:

      Hi Funmi
      You’re so right! It is very easy to trap ourselves in a cycle of busy-ness, until it becomes our way of being and we forget how it feels to relax. Fortunately awareness is the first step and can help us to break the pattern and seek quiet spaces of nothingness.
      Best wishes

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