Why I no longer feel guilty about doing less.

“You cannot get your middle-aged childhood back.” – Anne Lamott

Last week, Anne Lamott spoke at Emerging Women Live 2016 about the importance of rest. She reminded us that we need to practice “the divine sacrament of the plop” – of stopping to do nothing on a regular basis. That’s a big stretch for most of us type-A personalities. Adding in our North American 24/7 work ethic and its cult of busy-ness compounds the problem even further.

But what if we accomplished fewer things in our day?

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that it’s pretty easy to get mixed up about what MUST be done.

Since this past spring, I’ve had to make some very deliberate decisions regarding my time. I’ve had to constantly re-evaluate what’s important to me and what I needed to let go, both professionally and personally.

I’m finding that I now devote a considerable amount of energy at the beginning of each week and day, looking at my list of what I feel needs to be done and then deciding what I’m going to let go of so that I can have some time to rest.

I used to pride myself on the amount of stuff that I can get done each day. I know that I am wired that way (my StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment had Achiever listed as one of my top 5 strengths). So I sometimes have to “cheat” and write down rest time or reading time on my daily list so that it’s something to check off. You may laugh, but those of you who are wired like me know exactly what I am talking about.

Everything that is important to me requires me to be coming from a place of resilience, rest, connectedness and creativity. I can’t be who I want to be when I’m exhausted.

So I’m taking Anne’s advice and making sure that I regularly practice “the sacrament of the plop.” I’ve even created a little nook for myself in our 800 square foot condo: an indoor hammock with a comfy pillow, a little side table for books and tea, and a reading light for the dark winter evenings. It’s my little space that makes me look forward to downtime.

It’s a daily decision. I’ve decided that anything I feel recharged afterward is downtime worth fighting for. For me, this is in the form of reading fiction books, looking out the window while I drink a cup of tea (or wine!), listening to podcasts, and going for walks. Although I love to scroll through Instagram or watch Netflix, I don’t feel recharged after doing these things so it doesn’t count as quality downtime.

Still not convinced? I will leave you with one more pearl of wisdom from Anne:

“Peace is Joy at rest and Joy is Peace on its feet.”

Amen.

 

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