One of the four pillars on which we stand at The Profitable Firm is rest.
This can seem incongruent with our being a creative agency, or indeed with any type of business operating in the 21st century.
Phrases like “smash it” and “crush it” and “disrupt your market” abound. The high growth, high tech, change-your-world businesses are the ones that last. Surely working harder, more hours, and with more enthusiasm is the key?
All of those things are required for today’s business. But what is also required for that hard work to pay off is consciously taking the time to rest.
What does this mean in practicality? How do you take time for rest when everything around you, from prospects to clients to social media, presses you to keep moving and never stop?
Rest means consciously choosing to take a break.
Within our Slack group for the Profitable Firm, team members will post things like “Brain is full – going for a walk” or “Going for a longer lunch with friends”.
We do this because we need it, and also because it would be so easy as a remote company to continually pressure each other to work every spare second. (Or to give the impression that we were working every second even if that wasn’t the case.)
Rest involves trust. You trust your body and mind to alert you when it’s time for a break, and you take it.
The key is to consciously take a break from what you have been driven to do. Attending events every week? Choose not to go every once in a while. Meeting with clients in person? Hold a few of these virtually. Going out with friends every night? Have a night in.
We often default to this type of break when we feel tired, or discouraged, or overworked. But true rest means that sometimes you take this break before the discouragement or weariness kicks in. It’s counter cultural (read on below), but effective.
Consciously choosing rest is a hard thing.
We are hard wired to work, and work hard. To push through and press on and do more and finish the to do list. We feel successful when we’ve achieved, and can feel useless or discouraged if we haven’t.
It’s also counter-cultural.
The very act of rest can be interpreted by others as laziness. Lack of go-getted-ness.
If you pause in the midst of an incredibly busy day to sit quietly with a cup of tea, or go for a walk in the fresh air, or read a few chapters from a new book, or sit back with a few friends in a coffee shop, it would be easy for anyone looking in to say, “Oh well, your life is pretty easy isn’t it? “
They didn’t see you get up at 5am and work for several hours before everyone else started. Or work through the weekend. Or stay up late to finish that new programme on deadline.
The point is, you’re responsible for you. Not for what others think you need to be doing (or not doing). And choosing rest will make you a better worker. A better business owner, mother or father, employee, and person in general.
Rest may mean different things to different people.
My sister is an ultra marathon runner. For her, taking a rest might mean a quick 5-10 mile run. For me, that sounds like work.
One of my other sisters has four children. Four boys, ranging in age from 10 to 16. For her, rest can simply be defined as time by herself. For someone who lives on their own, that might not be a break from daily life, and a coffee with a good friend would be restful.
The point is that rest gets you back to the very best of you. Your talents, skills, capabilities, and mindset are all operating at the highest and best level possible, and you are at peace. Not stressed or frustrated or easily angered or keeping records of wrongs.
Rest is more than sleep.
Getting eight hours of sleep per night does not solely constitute rest. (Although if most of us got that level of sleep consistently, we might be more rested all round.)
Rest affects not merely the body, but the mind and soul and even the heart. Those who are rested are better able to give or receive constructive criticism, to respond well when things go wrong, and to be pleasant and helpful to everyone around them.
That’s why it’s so important for all of us at The Profitable Firm to get rest – so we’re best able to help you, and serve you as our clients.
If you don’t choose rest, it will be forced on you in a way you didn’t want.
How many times have you gotten that feeling that you’re starting to get sick – and instead of taking a break, you push through. Finish the job, go to the event, take the call. And then you do get sick, and it lasts for days or a week or longer. Or worse, your rushing causes you to slip and fall, or get into a car accident, or contract a serious illness. Then you find yourself in bed or in hospital, forced to take the rest that you wouldn’t take initially.
Granted, sometimes you have to push through. I’ve done it times without number. But in general, choosing to heal more quickly at the start is far better than pushing through and getting so ill that you are out of commission for several days or a week.
It does feel counter productive to take the morning off, sleep more, drink hot water and lemon and honey, and give yourself the rest your body so desperately needs. But what if it was more effective in the long run? What if taking one morning off saved you four days in the end?
It IS more effective in the long run, if only we would choose it.
There is a balance, but we almost never err on the side of rest.
“But you can’t go round taking naps every day,” you might say. Or “if I stop to read a book, I may fall asleep and never finish the day’s work.”
Those may be true. My perspective would be that if you can’t sit quietly for ten minutes without falling asleep, you are probably overworked in general, and it’s going to come back and bite you one day.
The point is, we never err on the side of rest. We don’t take a break, and then make it a little bit longer. We sit quietly for about ten seconds and then pull out our phone and start checking things. Replying. Reading. Staying connected.
What if you tried to rest just a little bit more than you do now? Chances are that would be far, far more than usual – and your body and mind and business will thank you.