Summer Fun: Learning to Rest
Summer … the season that evokes our “inner vacation”… the season that encourages flip-flops and casual attire, long evenings and slow mornings … the season where we leave room for spontaneity and unexpected joy to enter into our daily routines and obligations. Days that were jammed packed with back-to-back meetings and standing appointments are largely wiped clean. Perhaps I’m the only one, but as much as I complained about those overly scheduled days, they provided me with a sense of importance—a sense of purpose that gave me value. I’ve longed for a break for so long and now that I have one, I carry anxiety like a task on my to-do list. I am overwhelmed by the pressure of an empty day. Will I get enough done? Where do I start? What does it mean about me if there is nothing I “have” to do today. I look to fill that day like my very worth depends on it. Why does relaxation couple with fear? Why does a “break” accompany loaded expectation? How do we as Achievers give ourselves permission to truly enjoy this season that we desperately crave but so seldom allow to take place?
Narrow Your Focus
The old adage that “less is more” is often overlooked by those of us who don’t do anything halfway or leave anything “as-is.” However, when it comes to summer, narrowing our focus to one important objective can allow us to invest in a part of ourselves and a part of our lives in which we are often not able to give the proper time to. Rather than littering your free time with an endless to-do list, create blocks of time to create. Taking the time to invest in a project you are never able to get to can provide the perfect balance of work and play.
Allow for Transitional Space
While empty space and idle time can add pressure and create anxiety for us achievers, this in-between time of nothingness referred to as “transitional space” is where life happens. It’s the time where inspiration takes place and creativity takes flight. Yet, we often look upon this time as wasteful nothingness. Rather than coping with our feelings of inadequacy filling our time with meaningless tasks, let’s allow time in our lives for the meaningful to develop and take flight.
Find a New Measuring Stick
We achievers are accustomed to numbers…hard and fast evidence that we are meeting expectations. The problem is that these strict standards leave little room for quality relationship, spontaneous memories, or deep conversations, which are arguably the most precious elements of life. Perhaps it is time we find a new way to measure our value and an alternative way to understand what it means to live an accomplished life. Rather than beating ourselves up over a to-do list left unresolved, perhaps we should strive toward quality instead of quantity. The quality is where we discover more about ourselves and more about relationships and are able to create out of this space.
Celebrate the Break
We spend countless minutes, hours, days, yearning for relief from the relentless schedule we keep. And when relief finally comes, we are often guilt-ridden in taking the time we need. Rather than allowing worry and stress to dictate a slow season, embrace it. Take the time that your schedule has given you and slow down, unplug, and recharge. You will be that much more refreshed and renewed to take on the work when it comes.
So what keeps you from taking the break that your mind, body, and soul are all telling you that you need? Not feeling accomplished? Not feeling impressive? Whatever it is for you, we are all wise to examine where our identity comes from. What makes us who we are? I would challenge us all to consider that fact that our identity doesn’t come from the outside in, but instead the inside out. In other words, nothing external that we do or accomplish adds or subtracts from our value. Instead, we are valuable simply because we are who we are and from this place, we add value to the world by doing the things we are genuinely called to do in service to others. What difference would this perspective make for you this summer?