Ahh, let rest. I write today from the midst of a glorious retreat weekend. I’m away with two dear friends and fellow entrepreneurs for our third annual Entrepreneur’s Getaway. The three of us have holed up in an old train station turned art studio/Airbnb in the horse country of Virginia. Our theme for the weekend is Direction and Mindset and so far we’ve been goal setting, dreaming about what we want, and setting plans in motion to move towards our visions. It’s been good. So, so good. (I will share more details about this retreat and how you can design your own in an upcoming post, but you can tide yourself over with a glimpse here into our last Entrepreneur’s Getaway.)
Right now, my fellow retreaters – the awesome duo behind StoryMineMedia – are off discussing project management software and making dinner while I listen to Eric Bachman tunes and finish this blog post. Asking for help is not my strong suit. Though I’m working on this skill, it is so wonderful in the meantime to have good friends who are on the lookout for ways I can take it easy. I’m barely 24 hours into this retreat experience and I already feel so rested and rejuvenated – a very positive reinforcement of where I’ve committed to focusing my energies in 2017.
I chose “let rest” as my theme for 2017. (You can hear more about my decision to select this theme and how to set your own in this podcast.) I’m not gonna lie; 2 weeks into the new year my enthusiasm for this theme is only growing. I am a naturally driven person. If I want to get something done, I WILL get it done. Early mornings, working nonstop throughout the day (and sometimes night) doesn’t phase me. Knowing when to shut down and unplug, on the other hand, is something I am in the process of learning. Perhaps some of you can identify with this habit?
2016 was a year of intense work – in the most fantastic ways. My client roster has been on the rise while my deep appreciation for the work all of these individuals have all committed to holds steady. I’ve explored a diverse set of topics in these partnerships – e.g., shifting communication habits to drive results, setting a new career direction, developing a centering practice to move through a major professional transition, and this list goes on. I’ve also been teaching workshops and facilitating retreats all year long. I’ve had the chance to steward a school board through the process of naming their vision for the first time; I’ve supported professional services leaders undergoing major a change initiative; I’ve taught the power of emotional intelligence to federal service executives. On the strategy front, I’ve found myself focusing a lot on writing and marketing. In this work, I’ve had fun working with several budding entrepreneurs to design and then launch their digital presence.
At home I’ve tried to keep pace with my little bits, who just seem to keep growing by leaps and bounds. And so darn fast. We read books together, imagine “magic land stories” in their last waking moments of the day (and who am I kidding, often my last waking moments too), and go on adventures both exotic (the children’s museum in Cincinnati!) and local (the grocery store!). A new tradition we’ve created together is the idea of a “night walk” exploration. Essentially this is me bundling both kiddos up for a strollered walk through the neighborhood when they get home, which in this season is long after the sun has set. It’s been such a joy to have this time together and offers the triple win scenario of the kids having a fun activity, mama having a chance to stretch her legs, and papa getting the quiet time to put dinner on the table. Occasionally Colin and I also manage to run a vacuum, put the laundry away, and get through all of the dishes. (Where do all the dishes come from!?!) As I’ve said before, it’s a beautiful chaos.
Amidst the routine of regular client work and home life, I felt drawn in 2016 to explore some new opportunities for creative expression. This blog and the website it appears on are two examples of this new exploration. Launching the Design Yourself podcast is another. This work was mostly completed in the fringe hours of my day, e.g. carving out time in the early morning or evenings.
Oh, and for the majority of 2016 I was pregnant and so my body was busy growing a new little person.
Suddenly I’m realizing why I wanted to choose “let rest” as my theme for 2016! I’m tired just typing this out!
Joking aside, I’ve been delighted by my work and I recognize that I have been keeping a fast pace to get it all done. As I shifted gears into the new year, I knew I was ready to slow down. (Being in my third trimester definitely helped nudge this along!) That said, old habits do die hard. So I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what will support me in honoring this commitment to let rest. Here are some of the things that are inspiring me on this path; I hope they will do the same for you.
Let something go
For me, making room for rest meant recognizing that I can’t simply keep adding to my plate. Something has to give. More than likely somethings. Don’t get me wrong, I have had plenty of times – even just since the new year started! – where I found myself wide awake in the middle of the night and my instinct was to get to work. Sometimes I’ve followed that desire and the result was usually getting a lot of stuff done, but noticing that exhaustion is usually not far behind. This retreat experience has been a reminder to me that I have to be ready to let things go in order to make room for rest. Two simple tools that I will leverage in supporting me on this path:
1) Find an accountability partner – This is someone who loves and supports me AND isn’t afraid to call me out if I’m not following through on my commitments.
2) Create a DON’T DO list – This is just what it sounds like: a place to record what I’m not going to do. It’s so easy to get heads down on what needs doing that I find I need a counter balance to quiet the buzzing white noise which otherwise seems to swirl all around me.
Ask for help
Okay, so I know I just said I’m not so good at this. But man does it help. People really do have a desire to be in community and support one another. Yet, no one is a mind reader. We have to be able to clearly articulate what we need if we want others to be able to help us to get it.
When you are going to ask for help, remember to be specific. The more clear the your request, the more likely your community of support is to get you what you’ve asked for.
Follow your energy
So “let rest” might seem like it requires that you work less or do less, but I want to share a secret. Letting rest doesn’t just mean taking naps and getting massages. The trick to letting rest it to follow your energy. This is the idea that you go after what’s replenishing and building your energy reserves. Sure, sometimes that is self care. But sometimes that’s also putting in a hard, satisfying day’s work. Most of us can think of a time when we worked crazy long hours, but felt exhilarated at the end. And other times when we worked for 2 hours where and were already zonked. If you make sure to pay attention to creating a surplus of energy, chances are you will also get more done. A winning scenario for my fellow doers out there. =)
A helpful exercise to build your capacity is to simply journal for a week about how your energy levels are doing. Essentially you want to draw awareness to what’s working and what’s not. That will empower you to act accordingly.
The Doer in me wants to “accomplish” rest; but with the truth that emerges in the midst of quiet and calm that this retreat setting provides, I know that letting rest will always be a practice and not an achievement. A commitment I have to remake every day.
I wonder what commitments you have made to yourself to launch into your new year? What boundaries you have put in place to support you in honoring them?