Maybe it’s because it was January, the month of new starts, or maybe it was a rebound effect from the excesses of the holidays.
But I noticed a trend. For a full week, nearly all of my clients cited an urgent need to organize and declutter their personal space.
I don’t underestimate the impact of taking charge of our space: One of the very first clients I worked with during my months of coaching certification wanted to focus on organizing her apartment and her finances. So we looked deep within, we uncovered what she really wanted in her life. In true coaching fashion, I did not give advice or pass judgment, but explored how this action would serve my client’s growth.
We worked together for six months. And here’s what she found:
Connection with loved ones.
Isn’t it amazing what balancing the checkbook and clearing out the closet can give you?
And then, maybe because it was the end of February, when winter seems to never end and we truly seek hibernation; or perhaps there was a universal fatigue surrounding the spurt of energy that went into January’s decluttering.
But I noticed a trend. For a full week, nearly all of my clients cited an internal rebellion against productivity and resisted charging ahead with any kind of “plan.”
“I feel like I just need time to rest. But I feel kind of bad about that.”
Let’s hereby give ourselves permission to rest. And to enjoy our rest! That can be the hard part sometimes, can’t it?
We’re proud of our prolific expenditure of energy but feel guilty about gathering our energy into ourselves. Given the achievement-oriented society we live in and our demanding work culture, we feel compelled to justify how we’ve made use of our time each day.
And our inner critic is more than happy to chime in – “Hey, buddy, you’re not doing enough.”
Does rest even count?
I know this struggle all too well from first-hand experience. In my first couple of years as a stay-at-home mom after working as a hospital speech-language pathologist, I wrestled with the new paradigm I found myself in.
“I don’t feel like I had any billable hours today,” I confessed to my husband at lunch one day when my biggest accomplishment – and believe me, it was truly big – was that I’d managed to take a shower while our baby napped.
So what are we to do with this nagging sense of inadequacy that comes with non-tangible productivity? Hmm.
”Don’t buy into your own story,” a yoga teacher said at a conference I went to eight years ago.
“I totally buy into my own story,” was my instant thought.
But what if I didn’t … What if I questioned some of my assumptions, like the one where my worth hinges on my achievements?
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I know this: Rest is important. It’s just as important as productivity. In fact, I think it is from stillness and rest that we discover our creative next steps toward living into our greatness.
Which is quite different from relying on a packed schedule to fulfill our sense of purpose.
Remember that early client of mine who wanted to organize parts of her life? She took the time to be still and connect with her inner wisdom. From this space, she knew she deserved more peace in her life. And she found the internal and external resources to help her achieve it.
What does rest look like? For me, it’s stepping away for a moment from my busy schedule and checking in. Closing my eyes, sensing my breath, surrendering to whatever is there. Acknowledging the fatigue or the sadness or the gratitude, whatever is stirring deep inside me. My rest might be as short as a sigh or as long as a weekend away with my college friends. But I know I have to make time for it.
Want to try it right now? Take one minute to yourself. Close your eyes. Go ahead, really do it.
You, my friend, have permission to rest.
Melissa presented “Taming Your Inner Critic: The Key to Unlocking Your Creative Growth” at the Speech and Hearing Association of Virginia’s annual convention in Chantilly, VA, on 3/18/16. Contact her with your questions about coaching, speaking engagements, or to book a no-cost 30-minute strategy session. And go get some rest.