AT A GLANCE…
Read this if…
You sense there is a connection between time and momentum.
This post in one sentence…
Does time away take away? From our momentum? From our progress? From our purpose?
How you can engage…
Create a “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” list of your own and share it with me in the comments below. And share this post with others who might need to consider the idea, too.
Do YOU need to take more time off?
I know, I know… sounds like a trick question. But let’s think critically for a moment. Is taking time off ALWAYS a good thing? Loverboy sang “everybody’s working for the weekend…, “ but does working for the weekend ever work against us?
An Observation that Initiated the Question
I recently took time away from writing. Outside of a few random posts, I didn’t blog for a couple of months. I didn’t really write anything. I won’t bore you with the reasons, but I was excited to get started again. I felt ready to pounce on a blog post like a lion stalking prey. I was mentally refreshed. I assumed two months away would allow me to come back with ideas upon ideas. It was going to be a landslide of great writing. After all, every time I write, I use up an idea; so taking a few months off should in theory create a backlog of options.
But sadly, that was not what I experienced. In fact, I experienced the opposite. I struggled to even identify ONE idea. Eventually I decided on a topic, but I struggled to begin the post. It felt like a lion was instead stalking me, and I was incapable of running away! Nothing sounded good. Nothing felt right. I powered through, but the post was boring and unhelpful. In fact, I didn’t even publish the sad little idea. It’s still sitting as a pathetic alter to apathy.
Time off is good for the body and mind. It’s good for the soul. There is a little thing called the Sabbath that God commanded. But on some level, time away takes away.
How Time Away Takes Away
For example, continuing a diet is much easier than restarting diet (as I type, the cake sitting on our counter is calling out my name). Continuing with an exercise regimen is easier than getting back to the gym. As a campus pastor, I only preach 15’ish times a year. The first message in one of my local series is ALWAYS more difficult than the second message. Why? There’s a rhythm to preaching and preparation. Finding the rhythm after a couple of months off is difficult. Time away takes away. Week two is easier, and usually better.
When it comes to writing, I discovered: Frequency of writing is directly correlated to my flow of writing. Frequency creates momentum. It’s been an interesting observation for me to contemplate. I believe it goes beyond writing.
To take it a step further, time away interrupts any discipline, and discipline in one area always seems to create discipline in other areas. How often have we decided to get healthy and, in the process, found ourselves reading more, going to bed on time (and getting up without snoozing 7 times!), and even praying more consistently? Those activities seem independent, but they are connected by our discipline. Discipline is a multiplier: embracing it in one area creates it in other areas.
Again, I don’t fully understand the psychology of discipline. I’m still not sure how to delineate between good time away and bad time off, but I’m putting together a “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” short list for me.
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop…
- Reading — All kinds, but primarily leadership and personal development. Reading is a discipline that remains easier with frequency.
- Writing — I’ve made that mistake once.
- Relationships — Of course with family, but also in the workplace, neighborhood, tennis team, etc. Relationships can be hard to begin again.
- Preaching/Message preparation (or most any skill in your craft) — Even if I don’t have a place to preach every week, I try to develop content regularly to stay in practice. It’s a discipline.
- Family dinners — Maybe the most important thing we do as a family. And it takes a lot of discipline to make it happen.
- Physical health — Maybe the most important thing I can do for my life (career, life longevity, energy)
- Spiritual growth — Last on the list, but the most important for me as a Christian. Spiritual growth is a relationship and as such takes discipline and consistency.
That seems like a daunting list, but remember: Discipline is a multiplier: embracing it in one area creates it in other areas. Now the question is should I start with an easier discipline in hopes that it will spread to those more troublesome areas OR take the opposite approach? I’ll have to experiment and let you know!
There seems to be a powerful connection between momentum and time off. Have you ever experienced a negative side to time off (other than vacationing with in-laws)? What areas do YOU need to continue pursuing? Where can you take time away without losing momentum? Where can you not? I’d love to know in the comments below. Maybe you could even give us your “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” short list. It’s worth it just to use the phrase “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop!”
I’m glad you are taking me up on my challenge
Once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head (for me anyway). In my quest to become a better writer, I’ve read over and over, “write every day”. So that’s what I try to do. But, I’m also trying to find some balance to ensure writing doesn’t consume my life. I won’t bore you with my list, but I’ll take you up on making one.