How to navigate the tension between reaching forward and rest.

A friend came up to me at my book launch party. She had just finished reading “Stepping Up In Leadership” and wanted to share what it had meant to her. She shared how the words in the book made her feel like she was enough just as she was while at the same time inspiring her to grow more. My heart sang at those words. As I have pondered that feedback, I realised that this is the tension I sit in with my writing. It is the tension I sit in for everyday life too.

The society around us bombards us with seemingly opposite messages. Have you noticed that? There is the message that we need to push harder, reach further and achieve more. There is also the message that we need to take care of ourselves, rest and cease striving. Both resonate with me. How can both be true and worthy of attention when they seem so at odds with each other? Don’t get me wrong- there are plenty of unhealthy elements and interpretations of these ways of thinking. How do we sift out what is healthy and helpful?

I am still learning and wrestling with this tension. I don’t get it right all of the time. Here are some pointers I have discovered along the way so far:

There is always more growth to step into, the next stage of development, the next big step or the next little tweak.

Allowing myself to focus solely on the need to rest and cease striving makes me complacent and traps me in my comfort zone. I am still a work in progress and want to keep growing and moving forward. This requires being uncomfortable. This requires reaching out of my comfort zone to challenge and stretch myself. That does not mean that I throw rest out of the window though. I need to build in those rhythms of rest and times of comfort throughout seasons of growth. I can work out of a place of rest, where I am recharged and energised for the next challenges and opportunities.

Priorities need to be set for each month, week, day or even hour.

There are times when the goals I am pursuing have to take a lower place as my family needs me more or other projects take that higher priority place. There are times when rest and health are the priority and are just as much part of my long term growth as the focused work moments. Relationships, work commitments, fun and focus all have their place in our lives. I find it helpful to designate what the priority and main focus is for set times within my day and week.

Have a goal to reach for.

When I don’t have a specific aim in mind, I float and waste time. I need clear goals and projects to set my focus. These may change and even be left behind altogether but they keep me reaching forward.

What about you? How are you navigating the tension between reaching for goals and prioritising rest? I’d love to hear your tips and thoughts.

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