A high-achiever’s recipe for rest

restI’ll admit up front – I don’t do so well at rest.  I’m an active person, always on the move.  I’d rather be doing something than just sitting. Or if I am sitting, I can only sit for so long.  A week before our summer holiday I completed a Strength-Finder Test with a coach.  My number one strength, according to the results, is Achiever.  Here’s a description of how it operates:

Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day—workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied.

“So what are you planning to do on your vacation?” my coach asks me.
“I’m going camping with my family at the beach,” I replied. “We are taking the tent, camp chairs and a load of books and are going to enjoy doing absolutely nothing – for a whole week.”
“Good luck with that,” she said. “You’re going to drive everyone nuts.”

Well, she was partially right.  I did have difficulty sitting still at times, and had to look for something to do.  There’s not much that needs doing when you are tenting, but it’s amazing how creative restless people like me can get.  I made a movable shade cloth using a tarpaulin and ropes.  I fixed bent tent pegs.  I used a tree and the car trailer to make a clothes line that could hang wet towels and clothes for five people (that’s quite an achievement!).

Yet believe it or not, I did rest.  I was quite content lying on the beach or sitting in the shade with a book, going for a walk with my wife for an ice cream, or just hanging out with family.

So how did a high-achiever like me accomplish that?  Well I think a big part of it was the environment.  It was achiever-unfriendly.  No computer, no devices and no tools (except for a hammer and a screwdriver), no workbench, no lawnmower or vacuum cleaner.  I think another part of it was the location.  It was out-of-town, away from home and distractions.  Achievers need to be physically removal from their home and work environments from time to time.  It does something to them.  The “I must do something” drive switches off.  They are able to relax.  And I think the third part of it was it was planned.  Come January 4th, I was on holiday.  When the car and trailer were packed and we were driving out the driveway, that was it.  My brain registered, “It’s wind-down time.”

Rest is very important, not only every day, but every week, every month and every year.  God commands it.  Our body needs it.  Our minds need it.  Our souls need it.  We aren’t machines.  We are human beings, with weaknesses and limitations.  We are made in the image and likeness of God.  He rested and gave a pattern for us all to follow.

So, for all you high achieving A-types out there, here’s your recipe for rest:

  • Plan it. Schedule it. Otherwise it won’t happen.
  • Find a rest-friendly and work-unfriendly environment – far enough away from your home and work place
  • Unplug. That means EVERYTHING.

That will be a great achievement for you in itself.

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