As 2014 winds down, are you winding down as well? Do you feel like you’ve run a long race or hiked a huge mountain? After a marathon race, a demanding hike, or other endurance endeavor, most people take time to rest and recover. Completing another whole year of business, ministry, and relationships is not easy. It is an accomplishment worth celebrating and deserving of a break.
While most people take their traditional vacations in summer time, why not change it up a little and start the year with a break?
You think of the winter holidays as “vacation” because of the extra days not spent working, but for most of us, there is very little rest or down-time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. We plan, shop, cook, bake, host and attend parties, wrap packages, over-indulge in unhealthy food and under-indulge in healthy exercise. After those action-packed weeks what you need most is rest.
Studies show again and again that a lack of rest equals mental and physical chaos. When you don’t stop for a bit of r & r, adrenalin and cortisol blast through your body. Over the long haul this causes adrenal exhaustion and a hormonal imbalance that can lead to weight gain, depression, and insulin resistance.
We live in a performance-driven society. Ironically, our best efforts will not emerge from over-working at warp speed. We are less creative and focused when we aren’t feeling fresh and are trying to rush through.
As a follower of Christ you always want to give your best effort and deliver fabulous results, but God isn’t as interested in how hard you work as how peaceful and joyful you are in the process. If you accomplish great things but are a physical mess and have let more important things fall to the side, you won’t likely be getting many “atta girls” from Him.
Starting the new year with a scheduled time for quietly evaluating the past year will help set the pace and direction for forward progress in 2015.
Here’s a little tidbit I’m guessing you didn’t know: Fewer than 5% of Americans have ever written down a goal—AND when you write goals down, you are 48% more likely to complete them.
While you ponder how well you’ve finished 2014 (in business, marriage, parenting, service, self-care, etc.) flow right into visualizing improvement. Set honest goals with some action steps to keep yourself accountable.
If you’re like me, you feel less stress when you have a plan. Take time to rest quietly in the presence of the Lord and ask Him to guide you into this brand new year, including correcting any places you’ve gotten off course.
Here are a few intentional steps you can take to set a peaceful pace in 2015:
- Schedule more time for each task (including travel). — Things often take longer than we anticipate and feeling rushed or behind schedule adds frustration.
- Whittle away at your commitments. Try eliminating just a few things from your ongoing calendar (without adding more). You know what’s most important, so you’ll know what to drop if you take an honest look.
- Be purposeful about enjoying what you do while you’re doing it. (I partner with my 3-year-old granddaughter to pick up dog poop to make it more fun!) If there are things on your schedule that you absolutely can’t find a little pleasure in, maybe they need to go away or be delegated/outsourced. Life is too short to be miserable in the moments.
- Do regular evaluations to ensure you are accomplishing the mini goals on your way to the bigger ones. Don’t go through the motions without referring back to your written goals, plan, and vision.
Start the year in January with a peaceful break instead of rushing headlong into another year of doing too much, too fast and then feeling underwhelmed by your accomplishments in December. God blesses us when we learn to be still and listen.
Photo by Flickr (Adam Mulligan)
About Diane Markins
Diane Markins is a transformational trainer who speaks and writes in a “high def, authentic style” to help people learn to find clarity, vibrancy, and boldness. She is the host of #BoldLiving radio show and the author of “Women in High Def; Boldly Living Your Purposes with Vibrant Clarity.” Diane lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband of 35 years. She is the mother of two grown kids and a daughter-in-law. Her life is also shared with four “exceptionally wonderful” grandbabies.