“Wake up before everybody and work into the night. Hustle.”Gary Vaynerchuk
I remember coming out of grad school with this exact thought process. After all, that is what I did in grad school living apart from my husband for basically two years and then working for free for a year while paying college tuition. Clinicals. I went from clinical rotations, taking my boards a couple of months before graduating, to working my first full-time professional job. I signed up for a two-year fellowship program, moved to a different state, got a new job, and got pregnant with my first kiddo within 18 months of graduating. I was hustling to move from novice to expert in my field. I was hustling to work full time to pay down loans and make fun trips possible while having kids. It was all going great until it wasn’t because of what the hustle fallacy gets wrong—the importance of rest.
I used to treat rest like a four-letter word. But there is wisdom in taking a Sunday. Despite having gone to church for the majority of my life, I never understood the importance of the Sabbath. If this is an unfamiliar term to you, Sabbath is a day of abstinence from work, kept by the Jewish people. It was not until I hit a wall two years into my fellowship and failed a specialist board for the second time that I started to take rest more seriously. This life failure was because you can only go on fumes for so long. It was rare for you to find me sitting and just enjoying something because there was always something to get done. The life I have chosen continues to provide me with a never-ending to-do list, but now I take a day to mentally build myself up for the following six days to come. It is essential to realize that we are not machines, and rest is not weakness.
What does it mean to take a Sabbath? It is about a time for mental renewal. It takes a day to build up my mental reserves, which are drained by my work, family, and the day-to-day actions that it takes to keep a house running. It doesn’t mean I sit on the couch all day binging on a show because, ultimately, that doesn’t help build up my mental reserve for the coming week. When I try to select some of my activities for my Sabbath, it is all about what helps me destress the coming week. I see my Sundays as my mental health mindfulness day. For me, a typical Sunday is baking, a 15-minute meditation, church, and doing a weekly preview before dinner as the day winds down.
My weekly preview is where I map out my week, so I can destress any days where it looks like there will be lots of activities or projects due. The weekly preview is something that Micheal Hyatt utilizes in his Full Focus Planner. While I am not the best at using the rest of his planner, I love using the Weekly Preview. I am much better at letting my spouse know what days I need him to be primary for dinner or with kid pick up. While doing a weekly preview might not sound like something that would build me up, it is very soothing for my mind. Knowing I have a plan for my week allows me to go to sleep faster on Sunday night.
Your Sabbath could look very different from mine, and that is great because that means you are looking at your life and doing what you need to build up your mental reserve for the week. The biggest problem is moving from living your life in the whirlwind where you are constantly hit by things flying at you to taking at least one day out to build yourself up. Life will never be perfectly balanced. However, you can feel mentally calm in the storm or come unhinged where you take out your stress on those you love the most.
Does taking a Sabbath sound great, but you are not sure how to make it happen? Try anticipating your regret if you don’t follow through on getting the rest you need for the next several years. When we think about how bad we will feel if we don’t change, we can use that negative emotion to improve our actions now. Why do I believe that? Science. Over the past 15 years, more and more studies have been published around the idea of how anticipating regret can influence our behaviors. Anticipating your regret helps you to get to your why. There is a root reason why we want to change, and when you can harness that, it makes it easier to stay on the path you want. Those root reasons are not what a doctor or research study would probably give you. They are the emotional reasons that connect with the story of you. Give anticipating your regret a try and start your journey to taking your own Sabbath.
Action Step: Get out pen and paper. Write down why you will regret not taking a Sabbath. Next, write down the activities that mentally relax you and help you destress for the week to come. Copy this paper and put it in a few places around your house, such as your mirror and fridge, to help keep yourself accountable. You could also ask a friend to help you stay accountable, and maybe you can get them to join you in taking a Sabbath.