I recently returned from a trip to Ireland and on the long flight back from Europe to Asia (eleven hours), I found it very difficult to sleep. Fortunately, I had a copy of Jim Rohn’s four-hour seminar audio file on my iPad and so I decided to listen to the talk all the way through.
At one point during the seminar, Jim Rohn talked about creating a successful life and what attitude was needed in order to accomplish it and he said:
“Make rest a necessity, not an objective.”
This really struck me. We often hear people talking about their plans for the weekend or their next day off. They have every minute of their rest-time planned out. They are going to spend Friday night binge watching Black Screen on Netflix, then on Saturday afternoon they will sit down and watch the Premier League game and Saturday night they will go to the pub and get drunk with their friends. Sunday will be spent laying around on their sofa playing PS4 with their online gaming friends. It sounds like their whole objective in life is to spend as much time as possible doing activities that are destructive to a person’s chances of creating a successful life for themselves.
I have always believed there are two types of rest. Constructive rest and destructive rest. Constructive rest is sitting down with a book to improve your mind, or going to the gym or out for a run or walk. Constructive rest is taking time to spend with your family, developing your relationships with the people you love. Destructive rest is sitting on the sofa binge watching dramas on Netflix or staying in bed scrolling through Facebook or Twitter for hours. Destructive rest is spending your day off consumed in your PS4 playing games all day. None of these activities develops your skills or makes you a better person, in reality, they destroy you.
In my mid to late teenage years. I was a pretty useful middle-distance runner and my coach introduced me to the concept of “active rest”. Active rest was rest, but still doing some form of training. It could be a long walk or a swim but done at a low intensity. The belief was that by raising my heart rate a little, I encouraged my muscles to repair themselves faster. When I began working, I took this concept into my working life too. I realised that to be the best at what I did, I needed to maintain my learning and my development and so on my days off I would read about sales and selling, or read about better service standards. Even today, when I feel mentally tied, I read about teaching methodology. I watch TED Talks to get better insights in communicating and I read books and articles on self-development and productivity so I can be better at what I do.
In Tim Ferriss’s latest book, Tribe Of Mentors, one of the questions he asks is: “When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
I was not surprised to see that over 80% of the respondents said they took some form of exercise or activity connected with nature, such as going for a walk in the park or the hills. Not one person said they sat down and binge-watched Netflix or Amazon Prime. Not one person said they played on their PS4. They all took part in some form of active rest and the people interviewed for this book are people at the top of their fields, people we should be learning from.
It is very easy to do nothing valuable when you have some rest time. But if you really want to create a fantastic life for yourself, you need to start thinking differently. You need to stop seeing rest as an objective and start seeing it as a necessity so you are performing at your best day after day after day. We, humans, are built to perform. We were not built to sit around all day complaining about how hard life is. Use your rest time effectively. Use the time to refresh your mind and body so you come back from your rest better than you were yesterday.
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