I’m a busy guy. I’m not alone in that – pretty much everyone I know spends their life in a state of constant action. I’m slowly learning that it’s important to slow down, take a break, rest and relax.
I’ve spent the last few months in survival mode. And with good reason. My wife and I recently moved house. I wrote a pretty big exam a few weeks ago. And, most significantly, one of our family members had a sudden and very serious health crisis.
So I’ve been quite stressed out. That stress has translated into dissatisfaction in many areas of my life. I’ve not been enjoying my job; I’ve found small household tasks to be quite a burden; I’ve been questioning my motivation in many things that I do.
Yesterday was Sunday 28 December. It was my fourth consecutive non-work day. Not because I took leave (I didn’t and I was back at work today), but because Christmas Day and Boxing Day (actually called “Day of Goodwill” in South Africa”) happen to be public holidays in my country and happened this year to fall on a Thursday and Friday respectively.
So I had a bit of a break from work. I got to spend a good chunk of time with my wife (which is unusual because we have quite different working hours). I saw quite a bit of my family, and quite enjoyed doing so. I had a chance to pay attention to my home environment.
And, crucially, I was able to rest. For the first time in what seemed like months I didn’t have much that I had to do. And those things that absolutely had to be done could be dealt with calmly.
Not everything went smoothly over my four-day weekend. There was another (much less severe) family health issue to be resolved. There were important decisions to be made. There was a lot of cleaning to do in the aftermath of Christmas lunch, which my wife and I hosted.
But those challenges could all be met in a relaxed manner. Having the time and space to rest a bit afforded me the opportunity to solve problems rather than merely eliminating them or putting them off.
At the end of the weekend, when I was thinking about all of this, I was struck by a desire to approach all of my life’s challenges as I had over the past four days.
I tend to over-commit my time and energy. I struggle to say “no” to requests and as a result I tend to take on more than I’m comfortable doing. The inevitable result is poor performance in some areas of my life.
I’d much rather commit to less and do everything well. I would certainly benefit from that approach and the people I commit to would also benefit if I gave their problems the time they deserve.
Additionally, if I were to say “no” to some people, they could take their problems to someone who has the capacity to deal with them. The problem would more likely be solved to the benefit of everyone involved.
I resolve to get more rest. To live a bit slower. To do things well. To say “no” when I need to.