You don’t need another thing to read about rest, except that if you’re anything like me, yes, you do.
We’re not meant to go as we’ve been going. We worshipped at the altar of busy before the shutdown, now we treat it as an inevitable way of life.
We have to rest.
A few thoughts on our need for rest as summer starts in earnest.
Sometimes it’s okay to think small.
Not that long ago, a client opened a session with heavy worries about whether she's lost her love for her work: "I'm so tired, I almost didn't want to come in today, I almost skipped a meeting with my CEO, something is going on we have to sort out!
Then, she remembered: she flew back and forth the day prior to another city to attend a mentee's graduation, sat in the sun for several hours for the ceremony, and came home a little dehydrated.
Oh, she said, maybe I'm just a little physically out of it.
I see why she went for the BIG PROBLEM solving toolkit. Those of us focused on improving ourselves, our teams, our performance, and our organizations are often looking for small signs that have big implications.
In that conversation, I was reminded of what my adorable 18-year-old says to me from time to time when I am in a frenzy of worry about something:
💖 💖 Mom, she'll say, it's not that deep. 💖 💖
Truth is, sometimes when things feel off, it's not that deep. We’re sleepy, or thirsty, or we’ve been indoors in the same position with only our own thoughts for too long.
A glass of water, a little movement, a little more sleep, a chat with a friend, an afternoon in the hammock with a book may be what it takes to see things clearly, take better care, and move forward.
And sometimes we have to go big.
Sometimes, it IS that deep, what is wearing at us is about our mental health, our moral standards, our personal alignment with what we do each day, how we treat each other. It's about risks to our teams, or our organizations, or our futures, our society or our fellow humans. Sometimes, when the body and spirit are consistently deflated, a lunch al fresco and a few days off simply aren’t enough.
In those cases, these are signs that we need more than rest, we need a change.
This was me seven years ago, when day after day, crossing the threshold into my place of work created a heaviness in my chest. I took time off, I switched my schedule around, I made time for lunch and a daily walk, I worked with a coach - still the heaviness arrived when I walked in the door. It became more and more clear that it was time for a big change.
My bookkeeper wrote me a note a few days ago sharing her view of making big changes in her life. She had been part of a coaching group I ran a few months after she was laid off. That period of time coincided with a massive amount of personal transition and loss, including a move and caring for a dying family member. She took ample time off to handle the things that life required at the time, and then realized she couldn’t go back to the way things had been before. She knew now that she needed to build a career and life that allowed her the freedom to support her family, work that was more deeply aligned with her purpose and personal goals, and something she could build herself. After what she'd been through, micro-adjustments weren't what she needed - she needed an overhaul.
These big changes aren’t easy. I know for sure that they take thoughtfulness, time, and company.
They also take energy. It’s hard to change your life on an empty tank.
Otherwise said, maybe we have to rest small in order to change big.
Maybe this summer, you can ask yourself: what do I really need right now? And what do I need less of? What change might this rest be preparing me for?
And take some steps, small or big, to get closer.
How are you taking care of yourself this summer? I’d love to know.