Three Tactics for Personal Renewal (You Need Them All!)

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If you struggle to experience rest even when you’re resting, this post is for you.

I’m exactly two weeks removed from leaving my role at Woodstock City Church.

Yes, it’s a bit weird.

I knew taking a little time off to rest and reset would best position me for my next adventure. I committed to take two weeks off and do nothing related to work — no meetings, writing, content development, preaching, and the like. It sounded like a glorious plan. Leave Woodstock City Church on Sunday, August 1, and ride off into the two-week staycation sunset.

Outside of an afternoon massage and dinner with friends, I awoke Monday morning with an empty calendar. I walked downtown for some coffee. I sat outside under a tree. I looked at Instagram … And I wondered what was happening at church.

That was the single thought that I couldn’t shake. “I wonder what’s happening at church this morning?” “I wonder what meetings I’m missing?” “I wonder what decisions they are making without me?”

I literally had previous work FOMO. I felt I was missing out. And that emotion wasn’t that relaxing. I was trying to rest and reset, but my mind was still back at my old job.

I know this is relatively normal. I spent nearly 13 years leading Woodstock City Church. I didn’t expect to completely leave emotionally the moment I left physically. I equally didn’t expect to spend three days wondering what was happening at work rather than resting and refreshing my heart, soul, and mind.

Your current circumstances are different than mine. But, let me ask you a question: Have you ever physically been on vacation but emotionally remained at work? Have you ever taken time off but not felt “off” at all? Have you ever needed a break from your vacation?

It took me a full 3.5 days to start emotionally feeling “off.” That’s a long time. Think about it: If you take a week-long summer vacation and it takes you half the week to begin vacationing, that’s not a great use of a vacation week.

Here’s what my last two weeks taught me (or reminded me): If we want to refresh well, we need to practice resting well.

In my new adventure, I am committing to a sustainable pace. I will certainly work hard, but I equally want to experience rest and renewal. I don’t want to experience three days of vacation while at the beach for a week.

We can all do this. If you want to build a life of ongoing renewal, start by incorporating practices daily, weekly, and annually.

I first heard this from Rick Warren, and I love his methodology. I’m committing to it starting today:

The Three Stages of Personal Renewal

1. Divert Daily

Every day, find time to divert emotionally. Each of us will do this differently. For me, diverting is a good workout at the gym. For you, it may be reading a book or watching a show. What you do is unique to you. But find a way to incorporate at least 15 minutes of daily diversion. This daily practice keeps you emotionally more grounded and prepares you for the next revitalization phase.

2. Withdraw Weekly

In the Bible, this is called the Sabbath. Whether you’re a Bible person or not, it just makes sense. Every week, take a day (or part of a day) away from work. Turn off your email. Don’t return non-family or friend texts. Do something you enjoy. Spend time with your family or friends. Go for a walk— just don’t work.

Withdrawing weekly is a practice that needs to be planned and protected. Otherwise, it won’t happen. Our time and days have a way of automatically filling. A weekly withdrawal requires intentional blocking out the time. If you allow this to become habitual, not only will you feel more productive during the week, you’ll prepare for an annual abandonment.

3. Abandon Annually

Abandoning annually is an extended time away where you are actually away. Working remotely isn’t abandoning annually. For me, this is our family’s summer beach vacation. But I don’t want to spend the first three days trying to disengage from work emotionally. By practicing daily diversion and weekly withdrawals, I’m prepared to abandon annually because I’ve been preparing all year long.

If you look at these three personal revitalization tactics and smirk, I get it. I was that guy for a long time myself. I’m still that guy at times. I know how much you have to do. I realize work has a way of never-ending, especially if you’re a pastor or organizational leader. But, and let’s be honest with ourselves, diverting, withdrawing, and abandoning is a choice that we either make or ignore.

There are 168 hours in a week. If you sleep for eight hours a day, work for eight to ten, and even commute, there are still hours and hours left. Our problem isn’t a lack of time but rather a lack of intentionally using the time.

So make a plan today. Please put it on your calendar. How can you spend a few minutes each day diverting? What day in your week can you intentionally withdraw (at least for part of the day)? And how will this affect your ability to abandon once a year?

How can I help?

Coaching ministry and marketplace leaders through change, transition, and transformation is why I created Transformation Solutions. Go right now to mytransformationsolutions.com and sign up for a free, 30-minute conversation to decide if working together works for you.

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