Ground Rules for Rest

Welcome back everyone! So far we’ve covered our problem with rest, what rest actually is, the reason why we should rest, and just last week we went over a change in how we think that can help us change how we rest. If you’ve missed any of those posts, head to those links and check them out before continuing here.

Imagine that I gave you a new tool. It’s shiny and new. Not too heavy, not too light. It’s perfectly balanced when you hold it in your hand. It’s got a couple of knobs that look like they might adjust something. There’s one thing near the end that looks like it might cut or … maybe it’s meant to punch through something? I leave you no instructions on how to use it. I just put it in your hand and tell you that it will change your life. I’ll be back in a week to see how you’ve gotten along with it.

What do you think would happen to that tool?

If we’re being honest, I think the majority of us would just put the tool down, fully intending to look at it and see what it does, but we would just forget about it until I came back to check in on it.

Of the extreme minority that actually do decide to pick it up and test it out, (most likely less than 10% of the people) there would be three camps:

  • Those that attempt to figure it out and just wind up breaking it because they don’t know what they’re doing
  • Those that attempt to figure it out and no matter how hard they try they just can’t.
  • Those that actually do figure it out.

So for about 97% of the people that I would give the tool to it would be of no use whatsoever. They’d forget about it, not be able to figure out how to get it to work, or just wind up breaking it.

Now how different would that group of people be if, when I left the tool, I also left an instruction book? You could read about the tool, figure out what it was made to do, and how to use it. What do you think the success rate would be then?

I’d wager it would be the exact opposite as before. I’d bet that somewhere in the 90% range would know exactly what to do with that tool and would use it correctly.

That’s where I find myself today.

Last week I said that we would talk about some practical ways that we can start to pay back that energy debt that we’re all living in and, over time, build up an energy surplus so that we can start resting for the work we’re going to do instead of from the work we’ve just done.

We’re gonna get there, I promise.

As I was writing that post this week, I realized that it would be irresponsible of me to just start naming ways that we could rest better without any context about what we should do while we’re resting. It would be like handing you this awesome new tool without any instructions. It looks awesome but you don’t know what you’re supposed to do with it. Oh you could try to figure it out but chances are, when I came to check in on you, you wouldn’t have even used that tool. Or it would be destroyed. That’s not your fault. You just tried to use the tool. It’s my fault because I didn’t tell you how to use it.

So before we jump into the ways that we can pay back our energy debt, I just wanted to take a bit to chat with you about some ground rules you should set up as you start to think about your rest times.

  1. Your rest shouldn’t have an agenda. This wasn’t my idea. The more that I learn about rest, the more I’m learning that this true. It comes from Sean McCabe. He’s a designer and business owner who’s been taking sabbaticals (something we’ll get into later) for years. He’s built the idea of sabbaticals into his business and has a goal to get every business to allow employees to take them.

His #1 rule for any restful time is this:

You can’t plan ahead of time what you’re going to do during your rest time.

Planning things for your rest time defeats the purpose of it being restful. Let’s be honest, you don’t know how much you need rest until you get the chance to rest. In the middle of the go, go, go there is no telling how tired we might be when we finally get to our time off. If you fill up your rest time with stuff before you even get there (no matter how restful or nice it may sound) then you’re creating obligations you now have to follow through with regardless of whether or not your body feels like it.

Here’s a truthful saying:

Obligation isn’t restful.

Sean’s post about freedom from obligation says it so much better than I can. You should read it.

  1. You have to guard your time. Whether your taking off a day, a week, or a year, it’s up to you to make sure that nothing interferes with your rest. You are responsible for knowing when your time off is, and then making sure that nothing ends up on your calendar during that time.

This has two “haves”:

  • You have to put this time on your calendar where you’ll see it. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. You can take that to the bank.
  • You have to start thinking of this time as sacred. As much as humanly possible, nothing and no one interferes with it. I mean, if you’re watching college football on your rest day and your child needs you to change their diaper, get up and change their diaper man! You can’t just ignore your family.

Speaking of which …

  1. If you have a family, find ways to rest together. Rest doesn’t have to be an isolated activity. There are times where that’s necessary, for sure, and it’s even healthy to take some time for yourself every once in a while. But you have a family for a reason. Bring them along on the journey. Show and teach your children about proper ways to schedule their time to include rest. Then maybe when they’re older they won’t have the same problems we do!

Okay, now we’ve covered the basic rules for our rest time and my conscience is clear that I am not giving you a tool that you won’t be able to use. Next week we’ll get into the first and most important way that we can start to pay back that energy debt. See you then!