Do you deserve a break today? Or more importantly, do you (your body and/or your mind) need a rest? When I say rest, I am talking about more than just a good night’s sleep. Sometimes, we just need more. I suspect that if you struggle to get a good night’s sleep every night, that you may just need more rest in general too. If so, you may be in what I like to call winter, a season of rest.
I like to call this season winter, because just like our daily sleep/wake cycle, we (our bodies and/or our minds) are wired for cycles of activity and rest. These cycles resemble the seasons in nature (winter, spring, summer, and fall). I believe that if we follow these seasons in our lives, we will be more productive in each season, and more productivity means that ultimately we will reap a greater harvest.
In the natural, we have signs (shorter days, longer nights, cooler temperatures, etc.) showing us that winter is coming. The same is true in the cycles in our lives. To be more productive in each season, it is important that we recognize and respond to the signs.
A few weeks ago, the Washington DC metro area experienced one of the most significant snowstorms to hit the region ever, Blizzard 2016. The blizzard was the third sign in the previous few weeks indicating that my life, like the weather outside my home, was in a season of winter. The question for me was: Would I cooperate with my winter rest?
I say cooperate because, like most Americans, the slower pace of a winter rest is not comfortable. I have things to do, places to go, and people to see. Or so I think, especially in the super-connected, high-speed world in which we live. We are programmed to think and feel that we must do it all—or miss out. For a choleric, a Type A personality like me, that is hard to resist. My natural inclination is to fight rest, even winter rest, and my environment is not helping.
So, during the few weeks prior to the blizzard, I resisted the signs to slow down, not realizing they were linked. First, the keyboard on my laptop broke. Then, what I thought would be a simple three-day repair turned into weeks. That is what first kept me from posting a blog post, not having my laptop.
Second, the night I picked up my repaired laptop it snowed—a trial run before the blizzard two days later. The fact that I was out in the snow tells you that I didn’t let that little bit of snow deter me. However, the two feet of snow that Blizzard 2016 left on my doorstep had me housebound for four days. Talk about a winter rest!
Having all that time to rest got me thinking, another purpose for winter that I will write about in another blog post. If to rest is to cooperate with winter, why am I so uncooperative? Now there’s a thought…
A Wrong Perspective on Rest
To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, one of the United States’ founding fathers, we should not put off until tomorrow what we can do today. That is procrastination. Here lies the biggest reason I don’t cooperate with winter. I usually don’t view resisting a season of rest as being uncooperative. I usually view rest, or too much rest, as procrastination. Though procrastination is often the case when I put off doing things I don’t like to do, like cleaning out my closet, this is not the case with winter rest.
Winter rest is not only a beneficial part of the productivity process, but a vital one. Growth, productivity, and accomplishment have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Life is the repetition of that cycle of beginnings, middles, and endings.
Along with being an indication of rest, winter is a transition point in that process and a winter rest is the part of the process that prepares us for the growth, productivity, and accomplishment that results when the process completes successfully. This transition switches us from activity to preparation for activity (or rest), which is why it is so vital and beneficial. We cannot be at our best without preparation.
Joe Frazier said, “Champions aren’t made in the ring. They are merely recognized there.” This is one of my favorite quotes and speaks to how important preparation is. What is often lost is the recognition of how important rest is to preparation. However, cycles of growth require periods of rest as much as periods of activity. To not rest is to risk running on empty or worse—to burnout.
Having the proper perspective on how winter fits into the process helps me be more cooperative with the rest that accompanies it, especially when I realize it is a part of my preparation because I want to be ready for my next blessing.
Newton’s first law of motion says a body in motion stays in motion. Another way of looking at it is a body at rest will stay at rest. Both of these are true unless an external force acts upon them. Another significant reason why I resist rest—fear—is tied to Newton’s first law.
Many of us fear that we will lose productivity, or worse, fail to succeed. I fear the effort that it takes to get going again. For me, the hardest part of any project is getting started, applying the force needed in Newton’s first law to move a body at rest (my body) into motion.
Instead, I prefer to “hit the ground running.” However, especially with a new project, it isn’t a bad idea to move forward slowly and build momentum. That way, it is easier to make any needed course corrections early, before you get too far of course.
Also, I view fears as warning signs of perceived danger ahead. Fears engage our flight or fight response. When I realize I am afraid, I evaluate the fear to see what type of response is warranted. Should I take flight (run) to escape the danger? Or should I fight to eliminate the danger?
For example, if I am hiking and encounter a snake in my path, the best course of action may be to run to escape the danger of being bitten by the snake. That is if it is a poisonous snake or we are unsure if it is a poisonous snake. It isn’t worth the risk. It is better to take flight to escape the danger. However, if the snake is not poisonous and we know it is not poisonous, we could continue on our path.
Another example is experiencing a major car accident. Many years ago, I was injured in a car accident involving a tractor-trailer. I shattered my right heel and couldn’t walk for months. When I did begin walking again, it was through months of painful physical therapy.
Immediately following the accident, I felt fear whenever I rode on the highway, especially if trucks were around. I felt this fear even though I had ridden in cars without having an accident for decades before this. I wanted to escape the danger presented by the trucks whenever I saw one.
However, I pushed through this fear because when I evaluated it, I realized this was a fear that I needed to fight. Yes, I needed to be more cautious when driving to reduce my chances of having another accident, but I didn’t need to be afraid of driving altogether.
Fear itself can be dangerous. It can keep us from advancing and succeeding. That is why you have to evaluate every fear to see whether it is a valid warning and what your correct course of action should be.
Following this plan, I evaluated my fear of rest reducing my productivity and found it to be unfounded. As I mentioned in my last post, we can increase our productivity 300% from getting a good night’s sleep. If getting regular sleep can do that, just imagine how a winter rest would improve your productivity between growth cycles. It is definitely something to think about before beginning your next project.
Until next time,
Questions: Are you cooperating with winter? If so, what are benefits have you seen? If not, what keeps you from resting between projects? Please respond by clicking on the Comment, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest buttons below.