“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither” -Alan Cohen
In life, I have noticed how easy it is to get sucked into the rat race and find yourself in a vicious cycle of work and more work. Especially in this time and age where everyone has a side gig or a side hustle, finding the right balance has been a challenge for a lot of people. I hear a lot of people say I do not have time to take a break or go on holiday or take a sabbatical. Yet I believe that it is very important for you to take time away from your normal daily routine. When you take a break, it doesn’t mean a complete shutdown, it means finding a rhythm in doing other things that will compliment your usual routine. I have outlined some of the reasons that may help you realise why it is important to take a break once in a while.
1 – TO REFRESH BODY, SOUL & SPIRIT
To take time out of the regular life commitments and responsibilities in itself creates space. It changes the day in and day out nature of work and life. To invest in intentional refreshing, learning, debriefing and dreaming in a way that nurtures your soul is a key to this period.
To be able to “unplug” from the routines and responsibilities so when you plug back in it is with renewed clarity and enthusiasm. Ensuring you make time to read, listen, reflect, write, whatever creates the health and momentum for you. Be deliberate about stopping unresourceful habits and creating new ones with the additional time. Dig deeper into books, podcasts, programs, classes, conferences, and mentoring sessions. Do the things that refresh you but do not overindulge, do not party or get yourself exhausted.
2- TO REFLECT ON THE PAST
Taking some time to reflect on what has been is essential in this period. How have you experienced the last year? The last three years? The last five years? What are you proud of? What do you wish didn’t happen? What would you have done differently with your time again? Are there things that you have celebrated? Challenges that have not gone away? Relationships established? Broken? Mended? Write down what has been the top five highlights of the last season. Aim to be clear about WHAT they were and do some reflection as to WHY.
Look for patterns, consistencies, and themes. Personally, I usually reflect on these simple questions. What am I proud of? How far have we come? What am I NOT proud of? What evidence is there of the positive impact of my leadership? What, if anything, is continuing to impact me and my leadership negatively? Based on the above, what can I REALLY influence? How? For those of you in Christian leadership, it’s worth adding some reflection around being true to what God has called you to do.
Reflecting on what degree of peace you have with the recent past and how you sense the leading of God to be into the future. Where there is peace and the absence of peace? They will all serve to give you a sense of where you’ve been and in many ways shape step three.
3- TO DREAM ABOUT THE FUTURE. AND PLAN FOR IT TOO (SEE POINT 6)
What would you create if you could? Really? When you close your eyes and see the job, the team, the marketplace, your marriage, your family, what do you see as possible? This goes well past the hyped “if you can see it you can have it” and deep dives into the truest reflection of who you are and what really is in your heart. What do you believe is possible? What dreams are in your heart that need a voice? What needs to be given language so others who read it can attach themselves to it and run. It’s a time to challenge yourself to be bold, audacious, courageous and faith-filled during this time.
4- TO CREATE SPACE IN YOUR HEART, MIND AND DEVELOPMENT
For me, it’s early in the morning. When I am freshest. When I haven’t been distracted by the day. To sit, read, reflect, and write. To spend time reviewing and previewing. To learn as best as I can, to digest as much as I can, to be sharpened as well as I can. Who can challenge your thinking, invest in your potential and call out the best that resides in you? Even more, what lies in your heart that you have a conviction about making happen? What do you sense God calling you to? How can that begin to take shape? This kind of self-leadership, with a spirit of humility and service, is the kind of leadership that can be a significant benefit to others. Grow you, and you grow what’s in your hand.
5- LEARN, GROW & BE SHARPENED
I have been learning this regularly in leadership mentoring, learn in themes. Just like movies, films and books have themes, your life does too. My themes are based around my spiritual gifts, my responsibilities and my passions. So for me, I concentrate on growing in the following ways. As a husband As a father. As a leader. As a communicator. As a mentor (disciple maker) Attend conferences, speak, be mentored, buy lunch. Do whatever it takes to get in the way of activities that sharpen and grow you. Then do more of those activities.
6- TO PLAN THE FUTURE
Begin to write down how the future might look upon your return from this time away. What must be focused on in the next 90 days to serve the team and the organisation you are part of? Be clear. Be specific. Be intentional and be prepared for your arrival back into your working world. I suggest the following staged approach to your return.
Immediate – get done in the next 90 days
Mid Range – Include the team if any, in the next 3-6 months
Longer Term – What can you and your team shape for the next 3-5 years
One word of warning. Avoid the “overload trap” here. The overload trap is when you return, all refreshed and ready for the next big thing that you’ve spent all this time dreaming up and your team has been carrying additional responsibilities and activities in your absence. Then on your return, they have even more to accomplish because YOU have had time and space to think about all the things that are in your heart to accomplish.
That will most likely overload your team. Be able to distinguish between immediate “runs on the board” and the strategic things that need to be co-created with your team. Better you return with clarity and humility than clarity and overload. As you take this time may it be rich in reflection, deep in growth, profound in transformation and powerful in progress. May you BE a more effective leader as a result. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, how you have managed your time away from your busy routine.