Probably the last thing you want to think about when it comes to rest is discipline. It seems almost antithetical to the whole point. Why would I need to get disciplined to enjoy some rest? Well, if you are looking to maintain a high quality of rest, you’ve got to work for it. The incentive to getting in the habit of rest is getting the chance to think about what matters most in life. And you will come out of rest with the strength to act. Here are some ways to get practical about rest.
1. Customize Your Schedule
I find it helpful to view work or social activities as filling my tank and rest as depleting it. This may seem counterintuitive but stick with me. When we start thinking about rest it can get a bit crazy. We can apply a lot of unnecessary expectations. We think, if we don’t get the moment just right, then it’s all ruined. The cure to that thinking is customizing your schedule around meaningful connections with God. Time spent with God is always the primary source of rest. When you go to God, you must be empty so that he can fill you up. Because it is only when you first connect with God can you then go out and connect well with yourself and others. It's a cycle. Maximize your time at work and with others, give your all, then go back to God for the recharge. Then the pressure we put on rest to fill us up is alleviated, allowing our rest to serve its purpose.
2. Curate Your Environment
You've probably heard it said that “people are a product of their environment.” I agree. Your space will influence your pace. You can’t find rest if your environment doesn’t allow for it. The conditions of our environment, the restrictions or allowances that exist within the spaces we occupy on a day-to-day basis, play a major role in the quality of our rest. If I want to find rest in a specific space, I curate the environment to be conducive for rest. Knowing that environments either restrict or allow behaviors, I choose to build in what I find to be most peaceful. For example, it is a good idea to eliminate distractions, like TVs, cell phones, or anything that tends to capture attention. Quiet the atmosphere with books, maybe some soft music, and a journal. It is always a good question to ask, “What condition is my environment leaving me in?” If the answer negative, it’s time to makes some changes.
3. Create Your Checklist
Let’s face it, you’ll never feel rested if you don’t feel finished. You’re at the beach but have a pending project at the back of your mind and you can believe your beach day has been zapped of its refreshment. I’ve been there. A proven theory in psychology for personal and workplace satisfaction is the Goal-Setting Theory. The idea is simple—if you set and accomplish short-term, attainable goals, you’re more likely to feel satisfied, leading to a chain reaction of setting and accomplishing more goals. In other words, when you set yourself up to win, you’ll keep winning.
What does this look like on a day-to-day? Surprise, it looks like creating a checklist! Now as easy as it may seem, let’s get the checklist right. A recipe for getting overwhelmed is filling your checklist with every single aspirational goal you may have. Instead, start with 3-5 items you can accomplish in a day and write those down. Because, the truth is, if you don’t work effectively, you won’t rest effectively. With your manageable checklist in hand, you have a road map. The power play is when you literally check items off, then you will feel on top of the world.
Give yourself the well-deserved satisfaction of a job well done! Physically and mentally let yourself know that your day is finished. And hey, maybe there will be days when only 3 of 5 items get checked off. Tell yourself, “Good job. I’m done for the day. Today was great and tomorrow is going to be even better.”
4. Critique Your Work
Lastly, you’ve got to critique your work and collect your thoughts. The more tested your work and thoughts are, the more rested your soul will be. A good critique involves asking ourselves questions like, “Do I like the way this is going? What can I be doing more of? What should I be doing less of?” Try this: every 90 days, evaluate your life. The moments we set aside for evaluation are the times when God is the loudest. The Bible says God examines our hearts. He’s interested in what’s happening on the inside of us and so should we. When we critique our work and collect our thoughts, we’re opening up the door of our hearts to direction, guidance, and leadership.
Think about it, if we don’t put ourselves in a position to be coached, we’ll never improve. The problem is that we often go through life so busy and outwardly focused, we consciously or unconsciously shut the door to our hearts. Never be too busy to ask “God, what’s my purpose? What can I do better? What should I be doing less of?” Critiquing and collecting our thoughts means getting vulnerable. But in that vulnerability, God speaks to who we are and gives us the validation we need to move forward.
Once your work and thoughts get tested, you immediately feel rested. We see it play out in life all the time. When cramming for an exam, the nerves of anticipation can almost make you sick. But once you’ve taken the test you get that sense of relief. When we open our hearts to Jesus, he will always deliver on his promises. Those that wait on the Lord, those that seek the Lord, will renew their strength. Our God wants to mount us all up on his wings. We’re not meant to remain in a state of frantic busyness. He wants us to build a habit of rest so we can truly soar in this life. It is in the discipline of rest that God can lead us to where we’re destined to be.