Are you one of those people who can switch work off as soon as you leave the office? What about when you go on holidays, can you get into vacation mode as soon as you wrap up your final work projects? If so, count yourself fortunate! For me it takes a few days to decompress and let go of work responsibilities and concerns.
That being said, our time away was fantastic…just what I needed. For the first while I couldn’t even concentrate on a mindless murder mystery, but that was just fine…I had the ocean to watch, walk in, and wash away any nagging work concerns. Amazing.
I think it’s important to recognize that vacation time isn’t meant for re-visioning and making plans for future projects. I believe that this time is truly for resting and allowing the change of pace to refresh and rejuvenate in order to prepare you for the re-visioning and planning to come. Too often we hold off the resting period until we get to the point of burnout…time off then becomes recovery! Author Mark Buchanan can relate to this.
“…when I stepped out for a vacation, I did just that: vacated, evacuated, spilled myself empty. I folded in on myself like a tent suddenly bereft of stakes and ropes and poles, clapped hard by the wind. The air went out of me.”
Buchanan, and others, have found a way to avoid the trap of entering vacation time being totally depleted…it’s not that mysterious, but it does take discipline to make it happen.
I can already hear the groans…you figure it’s a bit Pollyanna, right? Maybe so, but that doesn’t change the value of instilling certain practices. You may not be able to take off for an extended period of time before heading into serious strategic planning…or even a really busy season, but is it possible to build in time for rest and rejuvenation on a regular, even daily basis? Would having that time built in prepare us to take greater advantage of our holidays, ‘training’ our minds to let go of stressors with greater ease? This article provides some great suggestions on this topic. Inc. talks about ‘10 ways to avoid burnout.‘ Even the Mayo Clinic has something to say about daily time set aside for my 3Rs.
I don’t start teaching again until September, and my coaching/consulting work naturally slows down over the summer months. However, once the calendar registers September I need to be ready to hit the ground running! That means I am now in preparation mode…not full-out working, but the mind is engaged in re-visioning and strategic planning, and I’m ready for that!
And to be sure…part of that re-visioning and planning is making sure I build in regular times to keep life in perspective, stay fresh, and be on my game. What’s your game plan?
This summer was supposed to be all about relax, refresh and rejuvenate…I haven’t been doing so well at that. In all fairness there have been good reasons for the lack of follow through. Since my last blog, life has happened; teaching, case writing, surgery (I slightly under estimated recovery time), supporting our son and family through a decision to accept a position with Facebook in Ireland, and, most recently, listing our home. More than ever I need the 3 ‘R’s.
The good news is that we are now on holidays…by the ocean! As I write this blog my husband and I have just finished a relaxing walk along the beach—wading in the ocean—and are now sitting on some driftwood enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of what, to me, is the most rejuvenating place to be.
There truly is something about the ocean that brings perspective to life…perhaps it’s the rhythm of the waves lapping as they inch closer to high tide, or maybe the total submission of beached jellyfish as they wait for the water to rise high enough to once more embrace them in its gentle eb and flow. Or could it possibly be the absence of schedules and deadlines that happens when we ‘clock out’ and allow for deep breaths, stillness and reflection. There’s a verse that encourages us to ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Sitting here, right now, pondering life and reflecting on recent happenings, watching and recognizing the power of the ocean, certainly brings this verse into focus.
Without the intentionality of stillness, we loose sight of the fact that we are not the boss of our lives! Yes, we are responsible for our decisions and choices, and need to be wise stewards of how we use our skills and abilities. Stillness provides the opportunity to do so; what are the decision I need to consider in the days, weeks and months to come? Will I have difficult choices to make? Who do I need to seek help and input from? Planning times of stillness provides the clarity and mind space to work through such questions. And…it also provides a time of healing for the mind following an intense period of personal and professional life demands.
My time over the next couple of weeks, by the ocean, is to once again re-focus by relaxing, and doing things that bring refreshment and rejuvenation, laying a healthy mental foundation for a busy time ahead.
In my last blog I committed to do whatever I could to avoid creating cracks in my overall well being…that’s easier said than done! I can’t believe how many daily habits I am unaware of that fight against that desire.
A simple example is eating. My plan this week was to do research and begin developing material for a case study and summer teaching…activities I thoroughly enjoy. However, in my focused prep I loose track of time and then wonder why I can’t put two sensible thoughts together…I forget to stop and eat until my brain starts screaming for fuel. At that point I am so desperate to eat, I grab whatever is fast and convenient; sometimes my choices are good…but not always.
Then there’s the old tyranny of the urgent. I take a few minutes to check email before setting time aside for quiet reflection and meditation…you know where this is going! An hour later I’m still dealing with issues that have come up, and those led to new ‘stuff’…there goes my quiet time! Sound familiar?
Don’t get me wrong, the week wasn’t a total bust…mid-week I decided to change ‘office’ location. For a whole afternoon I sat by the lake in a comfy Adirondack chair, reading, thinking, creating…perfect! Not only did I get a lot accomplished, I ended the afternoon feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Once again I was reminded that in order to break old habits we sometimes need a change…even if only for an afternoon. I know that being outside is what I love, especially if a lake or ocean is involved. I know that a change in scenery brings fresh thinking for individuals and teams alike. I know that when I head out on my bike (which is how I got to my ‘office’) I always throw in healthy snacks and water. I know that intentionality is key in making any change worth making.
Speaking of intentionality, I was explaining to a friend this week that my summer goal was to focus on the 3Rs: relax, refresh, rejuvenate. However, I got stopped in my tracks when she asked what that meant…what do each of those actions (yup, actions…) really entail. Great question, but I really didn’t have an answer. So, time for a little backtracking to clarify what I’m actually shooting for.
This is what I found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/
- to become or to cause (something) to become less tense, tight, or stiff
- to stop feeling nervous or worried
- to spend time resting or doing something enjoyable especially after you have been doing work
- to make (someone) have more energy and feel less tired or less hot
- to give someone more of (a drink) : to fill (someone’s glass, cup, etc.) again
- computers : to put something, (such as a page on the Internet) into a computer’s memory again in order to show any new information : to cause an updated version of (something, such as an Internet page) to appear on a computer screen
- to make (someone) feel or look young, healthy, or energetic again
- to give new strength or energy to (something)
I need to probe and ponder these definitions and think through the actual working out of these actions and how they apply to my 3R summer…hmmm!
“Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls– family, health, friends, integrity–are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”
― Gary Keller, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
I came across this quote today and it made me pause to reflect on how it informs my 3R summer (see previous blog). I’m fairly confident in saying that in my life, family and integrity remain front and centre no matter what. (Although integrity is informed and nurtured by attention to my spirituality…yup…more attention needed there). I truly hope that my friends would know how incredibly valuable they are to me, and know that they are right up there in my life’s priorities. Health…I’m not so sure I have given this the ‘glass ball’ consideration, rather it has fallen into the rubber ball category.
As I look back over my life, I’m again reminded that my health gets most attention when something ‘shatters’. I’m not talking about serious, life threatening, life altering scares…more the kind of reminders that say ‘ok, let’s take a step back and think about how you got to this state…again!’ Being the full out, 110%, fairly driven person I am, it seems that running full speed into these reminders is what it takes to get my attention, causing me to gear down before I’m forced to slam the breaks on.
The more I think about the ‘glass ball’ analogy, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that my health gets most attention when something cracks, rather than shatters. Cracks can be repaired, however, the more cracks an object receives, chances of restoration to it’s original strength becomes diminished without some major work being done. When we were young, body parts that cracked could heal so much quicker…like a greenstick fracture. According to the Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org), a greenstick fracture may not even cause much pain or swelling, and a child could still have full use of the injured limb. That’s when we were young…
Do I really want to keep ‘cracking’ knowing full well what one crack too many could lead to? Absolutely not!
So, what can I do to stop this cycle? How can my ‘relax, refresh, rejuvenate‘ summer turn my ‘rubber ball’ approach to health into more of a ‘glass ball’ mentality? I’m thinking that this 3R focus is exactly what is required. To spell it out, I need to intentionally build in time to relax, so that my mind, body and soul can be refreshed. Once my whole-self experiences some refreshment, it will finally be ready for rejuvenation!
Sounds too simple…but maybe that’s exactly what it should be, simple. Slowing down means simplifying things, taking time for more deep breaths, more think time, more time to reflect, more time spent appreciating those special moments… I’m reminded of one of my favourite quotes (author unknown).
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
For this week, my goal is to work towards acting on this quote…to look at preventing any more cracks. It’s time to practice what I preach about setting SMART goals, goals that produce the kinds of outcomes reflective of a life that makes room for relaxation, refreshment and rejuvenation.