Five years into my financial services career I had a double discectomy. Back surgery at age 30 turned out to be a good experience. It taught me that sustaining my health was my responsibility, and that I had to make time for it. Besides daily stretches and walking, I had to learn about rest and recuperation. I learned that smart people build rest into their day (NOT their year, their month, or their week – but their DAY). I learned that great leaders rest long before they reach the point of exhaustion. I learned that, in order to build up my energy and imagination, I needed to make time for the process.
How does a busy person, running a financial advisory business, make time for rest?
- Get up earlier. Yep, set the alarm 30 minutes earlier so that you can spend the first moments of your day resting instead of rushing. Get out of bed, stretch, walk, read something that requires mental focus (try Shakespeare). Don’t believe me? Believe Oprah Winfrey: “Even in the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction, there is – still – the constancy of stillness. Only from that space can you create your best work and your best life. I try to give myself a healthy dose of quiet time at least once – and when I’m on point, twice – a day.”[i]
- Get out of your office (even if it’s your home) for 30 minutes sometime between 10am and 2pm. Walk around the parking lot, or sit on a bench. Don’t even think of looking at email, texting or talking – this is about YOU resting your body and mind. This, by the way, is also an excellent way to show your team that you trust them enough to watch the shop while you are out.
- Enjoy a hobby. “A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by continually using it and tiring it, just in the same way that he can wear out the elbows of his coat,” advised Winston Churchill in his short book on painting as a means of relaxation, “One cannot mend the frayed elbows of a coat by rubbing the sleeves…but the tired parts of the mind can be rested and strengthened not merely by rest, but by using other parts.”[ii] Churchill painted pictures to recharge himself. John Lennon collected stamps. Meryl Streep knits. What do you do?
No matter how great your accomplishments, they are of limited worth if you can’t do it all again and again. The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer includes a prayer “For the Good Use of Leisure” which seems worth noting regardless of one’s faith. It reads, in part, “In the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened…”[iii]
You will be surprised that making time for rest cultivates growth and regeneration and will lead to feeling recharged.
[i] Winfrey, Oprah. What I Know For Sure. New York, Flatiron Books, 2014. pg. 154.
[ii] Churchill, Winston. Painting As A Pastime. New York, Cornerstone, 1965. pg. 7. This essay was originally published in 1932 in Churchill’s book Amid These Storms. Churchill’s use of painting as a means of rest and rejuvenation is well known. Less widely known is that he convinced Dwight D. Eisenhower to try it, and Ike did. Churchill’s paintings are pretty good. Eisenhower’s, some of which you can see at his retirement farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, are clearly a testament that one does not need to be an expert at any chosen method of rest in order to get its benefits.
[iii] Various. The Book of Common Prayer (according to the use of the Episcopal Church). New York: The Church Hymnal Corporation, 1979. p. 825.