Last summer I started a quarterly blog post series called “What I Learned.” This series follows the schedule of Emily P. Freeman over on her blog.
Did you know that February has become a month of letter writing challenges? InCoWriMo is one of the most popular – or long-hand, International Correspondance Writing Month. Which are similar/not-similar to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), or April’s National Card and Letter Writing Month.
Confused yet?? That’s okay!
Today we are going to take a look at writing challenges in general, like InCoWriMo, (who comes up with these acronyms anyway??) or Month of Letters. Quick note – at the bottom of this post, I’ve made a list with links to some of the most popular letter writing challenges. [Read more…]
Have you run into those oh so helpful articles or blog posts that give you wonderful tips like “reduce stress,” “eat healthier,” or “take time to rest”? Yep, me too, and I’ve been guilty of that myself here on the blog from time to time. Well, with this new blog series on “What I’m learning about rest,” I aim to change that.
When you are looking for answers, even simple action steps, these vague tips, and suggestions are so frustrating.
I think that is one reason Rest became my 2018 Word of the Year. The more I learn I realize 1) I don’t rest well, and 2) I often rest wrong!
One way I’m pursuing my word Rest is by blocking out time each week to dive deeper into my word and start to really and truly understand what it means to rest. What is it? How does one rest? Is rest more than sleeping and napping? How much is too much?
Changing one’s approach to rest is not something we can magically learn overnight and suddenly be good at it. It is a journey of small changes and deliberate daily decisions.
I should note here, “small changes and daily intentional decisions,” is a recurring theme throughout this new series. You will see it often!!
Categories or Types of Rest
One thing I’ve noticed right away is that there are different types of rest. To start with, I’ve created a list of 5 different types or categories of rest.
- Pacing Your Activity
- Active Rest
- Passive Rest
- Simple / Cozy / Minimalist Rest
- Sabbath Rest
For the first post in this series, I’ll be focusing on “Pacing” your activities and managing your energy.
Pacing as Rest
The idea of pacing came from several different sources over the past few months, even before I had selected my word of the year.
1) “Little by Little Is Progress” Lara Casey. Small steps each day accumulate overtime to bring about significant results. We don’t have to tackle it all today, right now. When we get overly ambitious and not pace ourselves, we will burn out, get discouraged and feel overwhelmed.
2) “Finish” by Jon Acuff: A book I highly recommend by the way. In it, Jon talks about how perfectionism is our biggest battle in going after goals and completing projects. I’ve never considered my self a perfectionist before, but the way he describes perfectionism, I can see how I have allowed it to sabotage the pursuit of goals.
And one particular way is how we tend to charge after our goals the first couple weeks in January then have a bad day or two and give up. In other words, we don’t pace ourselves, and when we hit a roadblock, we quit.
It doesn’t matter if the goal is to lose weight, change our eating habits, run a marathon, or learn a new skill, it takes time and effort. Most often it’s the small daily decisions that make the biggest difference. And when we fail miserably and eat that bag of chips? We have to decide to give ourselves grace and get back on track. It’s the (often small) daily healthy decisions that help us meet our goals.
3) Pain Management: I was looking at the concept of Active Rest and Passive Rest, and the idea of pacing struck a chord.
The State of Virginia Mental Health Division has a couple of diagrams that made so much sense, they call it “Activity Pacing.”
This balanced approach to healing and recovery is what helps you improve both physical and mental health.
3 Ways to Pace Yourself and Find Rest
In an ideal world, we would have balance and be able to pace our activities day in and day out. Well, we all know we do NOT live in an ideal world and to be honest, balance the way it gets talked about in the media, is a myth.
Personally, I think balance is more about seasons and cycles. Right now my season is to learn to rest, to learn to pace myself better and allow healing to occur. There are times we are crazy busy, and there are times we can slow down, the idea is to find ways to incorporate rest into your life, right now, and not put it for off.
Putting off rest is something you will pay for in the end as you start to experience health problems, depression, or anxiety. It will happen if you don’t make a point of resting now. Learning to pace your activities with periods of rest is a simple way to get started.
I’ve heard about the Pomodoro Technique for years and have even tried it a few times but couldn’t stick with it. In the past few weeks I’ve been working on my pacing, and the idea behind Pomodoro is helping to make a difference a difference.
This productivity technique where you set a timer and work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. You do this for four rounds, and then you take a long break. It’s a simple way to pace your activity and not overdo it. Bailey sure likes it! With these breaks, we tend to go outside more :).
I’m working on adding this back to my routine as it makes such a huge difference! My house is small, but when I try and tackle all the cleaning in one chunk, it causes exhaustion and a flare-up of pain.
By breaking up the cleaning and doing it in 10-15 minute chunks of time each day, the house stays cleaner, and I don’t overdo it. Flylady anyone? Another example of pacing an activity so that it is doable and not overwhelming.
Shorter More Realistic To-Do Lists:
I’m a lister. If it ain’t written down, it ain’t getting done. I’m also an over-achiever lister in that I make huge lists that are impossible to get through. So I push myself and try to get as much done as possible, overdo it and pay for it the next day. Plus then I’m discouraged at my apparent lack of progress.
This month, I’ve gotten my daily Bullet Journal set-up. And, yes I’ve officially jumped on the Bullet Journal / Travelers Notebook bandwagon click here if you want to see what I’m talking about. In my daily journal, I have intentionally kept my daily list of to-dos short as possible. In a separate section, I keep a wish list of to-dos or things I don’t want to forget on a “braindump” page of my journal.
Items get crossed off my list as complete, and it is not so discouraging to see a whole list of tasks not completed. There is great satisfaction in crossing an item off a to-do-list don’t you think!
Cultivating Habits of Rest
There’s nothing earth-shatteringly original here. Pacing is just one way to cultivate a habit of rest instead of overdoing it one day and hitting a wall the next. It’s the daily decisions we make each day to make little by little progress and give ourselves grace on the days we fail.
I could add a few more cliche’s to the paragraph above, but, cliche or not, they are all true!
How Will You Pace Yourself This Week?
As you read through the three ideas above did any catch your attention? What is one way you can cultivate a habit of rest by adding pacing to your schedule this week?
If you’ve followed along for the last few years, I have started picking a word for the New Year instead of making resolutions. This year is no different but, I must admit that it took me longer than usual to find my word and I was getting a bit frustrated.
It took quite a bit of effort, but I finally had a list of about seven possible words. So I started looking up the definitions of each. Most of the words were quickly crossed out, but one pesky little word kept grabbing my attention, even though I tried to ignore it.
To be honest, when I landed on this years word, I wasn’t all that pleased. I even fought and argued against it and did my best to choose another word, but I kept coming back to it.
My word for the year is “Rest.”
How dull! It’s about as opposite from being action oriented as you can get and at first I was not motivated by it in the least. But, the more I thought about it and read through the dictionary’s definitions it became clear that it was the right one.
In the end, my final confirmation was that I ended 2017 with a massive cold, flu, or virus something that sucker punched me and it only got worse the first day of 2018. It has required rest (of course) to start to feel better.
As I looked up the word in different dictionaries, I realized it there were lessons to be lessons to be learned through focusing on this word.
Rest as a noun:
- To stop and heal
- A pause in music (which reminds me of the word Selah!)
- Refreshing quiet, sleep, a period of inactivity
Rest as a verb:
- To support
- To be at ease
- To be quiet and still
- To be present, dwell, linger upon
I must admit that I get a bit squirmy looking at both lists, I enjoy slowing down but often find it hard. Which I think is at least part of what God wants to work on in me and why this word kept landing at the top of the list.
Applying My Word of the Year
While I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I do work on cultivating intentional habits and goals, for me and my business.
With my word selected I could now look at my list of potential goals through the lens of rest. It immediately shortened my list of project and goals. It also extended the deadlines on a few, and I quickly saw that there were some that would need to be put on the backburner until later in the year.
I think that is what an effective word of the year is supposed to do.
January brings with it a feeling of a fresh start, but that feeling soon fades. The following is a list of tools that can help you not lose sight of your word of the year.
6 Tools to Help Cultivate Your Word of the Year
Tool #1: Knowing Your Why
When you connect an idea, a project, a goal, or habit to a strong Why you have a much higher chance of success. Knowing and having a deep understanding of that connection will help keep you moving forward even when it’s hard.
Tool #2: PowerSheets: Intentional Goal Planner
I’m starting my third year of using “PowerSheets” from Lara Casey at CultivateWhatMatters.com. It has become an essential tool for me. Her goal planner has helped me see goal setting differently, and I’ve been able to tackle and finish more projects than I have in a long time. You can read more about it here.
Tool #3: Word of the Year Journal
I’ve started a journal to explore my word throughout the year. It will be a collection of verses, quotes, definitions, resources, ideas, and tools all centered around the theme of rest. Plus it’s a great excuse to go crafty and pull out my Washi tape, pens, stickers, and art supplies and have some fun. 🙂
Tool #4: Scheduled Reviews
I’ve written about the importance of Quarterly Reviews here. These reviews will include weekly check-ins and more in-depth quarterly reviews. It will be a way to evaluate what is working, what isn’t, and make adjustments as needed.
Tool #5: Accountability
I’m still working on how this idea will play out, but I know for a fact that accountability makes a difference. It’s how I’ve gotten books written and made substantial progress on goals and projects.
(Note: One idea I’ve been tossing around is a private Facebook group where participants would post their word and goals. Nothing too structured but a place to connect, share motivation, and hold each other accountable to do what we say we are going to do. If this would be of interest to you, click here and let me know.)
Tool #6: Visual Reminders
I’m creating a set of visual reminders of my word, like a tea mug, tote bag, art prints, notepads, screensavers, backgrounds, and more. I’ll share more about these later as I have them designed. Having and using visual reminders will help take care of the “out of sight out of mind” problem we often face.
Resting While Pursuing Big Goals
I have some big goals for my business this year and taking the time to rest will help me have the energy and mental capacity to tackle them.
To go along with my word, I’m also adopting this phrase, “Work from rest, not rest from work.” In just a few words it expresses what I would like to learn this year.
What about you? Have you picked a word for 2018?
More on Picking A New Year’s Word:
We all have a million things on our to-do-list, especially during the holidays. Without boundaries, and being clear on your priorities this long list can leave you stressed out and overwhelmed. Here are three reasons why you should learn to pick your battles.
Reason #1: Picking Your Battles Helps You Manage Your Energy Levels
There are limits on how much energy we can expend in a 24 hour period and when everything feels urgent, demanding all your time and attention, it gets used up quickly. All too soon you are running on fumes as your reserves become depleted just to get one more item crossed off your to-do-list.
Dishes, housecleaning, laundry, decorating for Christmas, gift buying, holiday parties, and gift wrapping, need I say more? We feel the need to stay up until way too late trying to get it all done. What’s more important at this point? All the laundry folded, every speck of dust gone, or getting a good nights sleep?
When the cleaning, organizing, or decluttering bug strikes, and I feel ambitious enough to get more than the basics done, I usually will go for it. However, more times than not, I take on more than I can handle in a day or stay up too late, and I suffer for it later.
I’m slowly learning:
- That losing sleep over getting one more thing done is rarely worth the hit my energy levels take the following day.
- To pick items from that list that are achievable and doable in the time I have available.
Reason #2: Learning To Pick your Battles Helps You Become a Better Stress Manager
There is all this great advice of, “you need to reduce your stress.” Yeah, well I know, but how? It’s rare that you get actionable advice on how to go about doing that.
I’m learning that through the simple act of thoughtfully picking my battles, I can become a better manager of my stress, which has the potential to pay big dividends on my overall health.
I’m not much of a baker, I would love to be but I don’t have the time and rarely the patience. At Christmas however, that changes. It’s during this time of year that I dream of grandiose plans to make all sorts of treats. But, in the end, I would find myself stressed out as I ran out of time to make it all.
Thankfully over time I have figured out a few things:
- Buying all the ingredients needed, did not fit into my budget.
- Even with sharing the goodies, there was a lot left, and I would end up throwing away quite a bit.
- What always ended up always disappearing first was just a few favorite recipes.
- I began to kick myself for creating all that unnecessary work.
One year, to help reduce my to-do-list during the holidays, I stopped making so many things. In fact, I only made two, Fancy Fudge Balls and Chocolate Oatmeal Bars. These two were the easiest to throw together and the ones that my family and I enjoyed the most. The experiment was a success, and I learned a lot from it.
First, I wasn’t up until the wee hours of the morning trying to finish all my baking.
Second, that simple decision made such a difference in how I enjoyed Christmas that year; it changed my baking plans from then on. It reduced the strain on my Christmas and grocery budget, reduced the amount of work I felt I needed to put in the week before Christmas, and most importantly it helped my waistline!! 🙂
Reason #3: Picking Your Battles Helps You Get clearer on What is Truly Important
The book teaches how to create filters to run decisions through to help you get clear on what you will say yes to and maybe even more importantly, what you will say no too. The author reminds us that when say yes to one thing, you automatically are saying no to something else.
These filters create limits on your available time and energy and force you to pay attention to the opportunities that come your way. It gives you the tools needed to weigh the costs, both good and bad, on your time, energy, and mental health.
What has become essential for me over the last few years is to take most Monday’s off from work as I am often traveling. It became an issue for me both mentally and physically to get home and somehow try and squeeze in a few hours of work before and after my road trip. Trying to fit it all in on those long days caused anxiety and high levels of stress that would wipe me out.
Monday’s are now for getting caught up on household chores, working on my business, and take intentional time to rest. This change in my schedule has had quite the dramatic effect on me. Getting home feels a lot less frantic and stressful, and as a bonus, it has allowed me to create dedicated blocks of time to work on the goals and projects that are important to me. As a result, preserving my Monday’s is a battle I pick weekly.
These are just a few of the benefits of learning to pick your battles.
When you exercise your choice of which battle to pick, there is often a feeling of freedom and relief. You soon realize that there are decisions you can just let go of so you can focus on what is essential and lines up with your priorities and values.
Next Step: Set Aside Time To Reflect and Review
Once you have picked your battles, it’s important to take the time to review your decisions on a regular basis. Personally, I like to conduct quarterly reviews. It’s a block of time you can use to look at what is working, what isn’t and what needs to change. It’s a chance to adjust or change your goals if needed. It’s also a time to recognize how far you’ve come and celebrate your successes. You can read more about that process here.
Picking your battles is part of living an intentional, purposeful life. It teaches you to be proactive instead of reactive. I know these are all overused words in our modern vocabulary, but that is not an excuse to dismiss them.
Picking your battles takes a different way of thinking, of being more deliberate in what you say yes to, what you spend your time focusing on, and what you are willing to spend your energy on.
Taking the extra time needed to decide if this is the right priority, project, or battle to take on right now is well worth it.