Get away and unplug. You’ll come back stronger than ever. – MICHAEL HYATT
Summer is halfway over for most of us. A season that promises recreation, relaxation and rest. We let go of the frantic demands and structures of the other seasons, and just breathe, right?
As a person who retired from a 38 year civil servant career, most of which was spent in front of a radar screen as an air traffic controller, shucking off structure and stress was my idea of heaven on earth. It still is, yet at the same time, I was not naive enough to believe the illusion that this kind of place really exists. At least not for any length of time. The evidence is everywhere.
For instance, after years of telling airplanes where to be and not to be, I found that true freedom lay in all parties, pilots and controllers, taking intentional actions within a structure is what created a non-stressful air traffic flow.
I find the same to be true in our financial life: Intentionally creating a budget in anticipation of projected income and adhering to that budget takes the stress out of cash flow. I am also finding this to be true with time. Yes, even summertime after retirement.
In all of these examples one must be flexible, and make adjustments for the unanticipated. Building in appropriate margins make even those events a bother rather than a crises. Why? There are forces at work to put pressure on the best intentions:
- In air traffic: weather, mechanical and/or systems failures. By the way, there are layers of contingencies in the system for each of these forces.
- In financial matters: unplanned or unexpected expenses or even that “bargain” or emotional call of an unplanned purchase threaten to derail precious resources. In the former, a well funded emergency fund is wise. Even a mere $1000.00 will cover 85% of common “emergencies”. For the latter, realizing that saying yes to the pressure to buy now, means saying “no” to something else.
- In the matter of time: the need to just breathe, to rest, to jump off the constant demand of life is real. So why not PLAN for it? In you do not, someone or something else will…..
Rest – What is it – Really?
: a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities
a : freedom from activity or labor
b : a state of motionlessness or inactivity
c : the repose of death
: a place for resting or lodging
: peace of mind or spirit
Leaving aside the “repose of death” for this discussion, this rest thing is rather like nailing Jello to the wall. The force of gravity on the structure of the Jello is too great. What to do? Form a suitable structure. For nailing Jello to the wall, put it in a container. For achieving a place of rest, recognize and deal with the forces at work, then create the right structure.
Rest in this life is not the absence of structure but rather adjusting or forming a structure which promotes rejuvenation. Think of crossing a ravine on a rope or net bridge. Once you find the dynamic balance between the forces at work, one can cross with relative ease. If you ignore or fight the forces at work, the crossing will be just a lot of work!
Telling Time Where to Go
Most of us, to some degree or another, organize and plan our work. Why not do the same for rest? I know, it seems weird to plan rest and recreation, but it does, in fact, make these times even more restful. Here are a few things to think about:
Daily rest. Preparing for that much needed 7-8 hours of daily rest facilitates its effectiveness. Rather than flopping into bed after a quick face wash, experts recommend taking 30 minutes or so to transition. I start by thinking over my day’s activities and being grateful as I prepare for bed, I then shut down or go to night-time mode on electronics. Personally I read something recreational like a novel or biography for about 20 minutes before turning off the lights.
Weekly Rest. We are also intentional about our weekend activities and endeavor to be intentional to change up the rhythm, incorporate activities that refresh and provide balance to our weekly schedule. We generally do not sleep in but may take some extra time for an afternoon lie-down. Sundays are for church with the evening reserved to ease into and prepare for the week.
Seasonal. Even with the above rest periods in order, a summer break is needed. Give serious thought to what truly brings rest and rejuvenation to you and your family. Starting ahead allows for a realistic look at the budget, to save, and avoid the after vacation stress of credit card statements. For us, we generally avoid peak time travel for long trips in the summer. We prefer to indulge in near by day or long weekend trips. For instance to celebrate July 4 we:
- had breakfast with a new writer friend at a great local restaurant,
- enjoyed baby snow leopards and lemurs at Tanganyika Wildlife Park,
- checked out St. Marks Historic Church
- and then after a nap biked down to fireworks at the Local Hyatt.
It was an amazingly refreshing and restful day in Wichita, KS
The point of all this is intentionality, even with rest. It’s that dynamic balance thing. I have subscribed to a new tool to help pull this and the dreams, visions, goals, tasks and even surprises into focus. It is, in fact called the Full Focus Planner. I have used, with success, a lot of planners and benefited from each. I cut my teeth on the Franklin-Covey system and still use Microsoft Outlook. The Full Focus Planner pulls from several systems with its own very unique twist. I plan to continue using Outlook but this planner is my core.
Last, I want to give the underlying secret to it all. It is found in the Gospel of Matthew spoken by Jesus: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
It’s all a choice.
How has your summer been so far? What will you do to make the most of what remains? Let me know in the comments below!