Oh boy. These past couple of months have been a doozy.
We got the podcast up and running in September, then had a family emergency and health scare in October that made us slow way down, then discovered in November that changing banks for all the business and personal accounts takes a lot more effort than we would have thought.
And on top of that, we’ve been doing our normal full time work of running a makerspace and making sure our freelance work keeps pace, which both keep us busier than normal through holidays.
Oh, then we got put out of commission with a New Year’s flu.
So, I’ll admit, we’ve pulled back from other activities for a bit, and that is not at all bad. In fact, Nat and I have come to realize that taking time to slow down and rest periodically is actually a vital part of living a full life.
Now, if you’re an introvert, like I am, you won’t take much convincing of this, but if you are not yet convinced, keep reading. I aim to show you how slowing down can help you move forward faster.
My personality makes me my own worst enemy when it comes to creating a healthy work life balance.
While I am an introvert and love a weekend with absolutely no plans, I also might be considered an overachiever. I set ridiculous standards for myself at times and make impossible to do lists. I do love a good challenge.
But often that means I’m running on empty still trying to get that last thing done before an arbitrary deadline. And if I’m not careful, that mindset leads me to burn out and bitterness.
It happened when I was a school teacher working 60-70 most weeks, and it happened when I started my business and couldn’t stop working. When I was working non-stop, I was not a good friend, I was not happy, and I was ready to quit.
The other thing that happens when you’re always in go mode is that you don’t see the big picture or even realize how much busywork you’re doing or how you’re just running in place.
There tends to be a lot of time wasted reacting to what life throws at you instead of making intentional steps to get to your goals. That is one reason all the productivity gurus tell you to turn off notifications on your phone, so you’re not wasting the day reacting and responding to everyone else.
And if you have your own goals for your life, you’re going to need to slow down enough to make sure you’re actually working toward them.
Which brings us to rest.
Rest is actually my focus word for the year, since it’s an area I need to work at intentionally prioritizing.
When you stop to rest, you affirm that you are enough just as you are and you are valuable for who you are, not what you do. I often get caught up in thinking that I always need to be achieving something to be worth anything. And that’s just not true. Rest helps you realize that, and that realization is transformational. You have permission to stop and just be present.
When you stop, you get a chance to observe your life, your actions, your daily routines, or lack of routines, and you can take a moment to see if these things reflect your priorities. When you stop and rest, you can plan what you actually want your life to look like, and create a plan to get there.
Having just been down with the flu, I really had to stop. And I didn’t like it, especially when I ran out of audiobooks to pass the time. But, I did get a lot of time to think about this new year and what I wanted it to look like. As I did this, I noticed I was putting a lot of extra expectations on myself that did not align with my priorities. And when I started to list what my main priorities were for this year, I started to feel more at ease as my new expectations actually aligned with my goals.
One of the things I needed to take off my plate was the unreal expectation of myself to work on Killer Creators as hard as my makerspace.
Don’t get me wrong, Nat and I want to offer as much guidance, support, and inspiration as we can to all you other creators, but we won’t be killer creators any more if we neglect the creative work we’ve been doing for years. So, no, we may not have super regular content for you all, but be assured that when we do have something new for you, it’s going to be good.
After reflecting on the priorities I wanted to have this year, they were actually pretty simple: steadily grow my makerspace (we’re celebrating 5 years this February!), help more creatives through new Killer Creators resources (look for an amazing resource coming next month), and be intentional about rest so I can spend more time with family and friends.
With those priorities in place, I can stop and check if any new tasks or expectations I place on myself align with these or not. If not, I let it go.
Nat and I keep a regular practice of taking at least one day a week off from work. It’s easy for us to do as we are in a community that practices rest on the regular (looking at you church fam for celebrating some Sabbath rest). And that regular practice has helped me rest when my nature is to go, go, go.
Now, maybe you’re not ready to take a whole day off to just rest. That’s ok, you can work up to it. But maybe you can take a half hour in your morning or at the start of your week to look at your big vision goals and then just breathe and relax before getting back to your work and busy schedules. Your body and mind need rest like this as much as you need a good night’s sleep.
And for the last year or so, I’ve been intentional to give myself a week off work every two to three months as being a solo business owner can take over my whole life.
This year, we’re trying to plan for a solid month off. And while there’s plenty of planning and prioritizing for us to do to make that happen, we know the importance of rest will make it worth it.
So, it’s your turn, killers. Take a minute or a whole day and think of what goals and priorities you want to focus on for this new year. And what things can you remove that are in the way or not aligned with your priorities? And if you really want to take this rest thing seriously, make a plan to take day off regularly, a week off seasonally, and maybe even a month off yearly.
As the cheesy saying goes, “We’re human beings, not human doings.”
So, give yourself a break to just live and be and do absolutely nothing for a moment. When you get back to things, then you’ll be focused and ready to kill it. Promise.