Breaking up your year into intervals is a simple way to sharpen your focus and stay engaged with projects and the things that need to be done to keep life at home rolling along. Instead of looking ahead over an entire year and making goals, try looking only at the next six weeks. What has to happen in the next six weeks? That’s a lot more clear usually.
The truth is, you don’t know what your life will be like in another 12 months, or even 6. Especially if you are still in the phase where your family is young and growing, you might not know if you’ll be pregnant, what the toddler’s nap routine will be like, and a million other variables. Instead of trying to control the details and plan out your life for an entire year (or more!), look at the next 6 weeks and determine what is most important in the phase that you are actually in right now rather than where you hope to be in the future. Faithfulness happens in the now, not the future, and God works with us where we are, not where we should be or want to be.
So embrace the now and work with it. Live it. And know that you’ll be able to handle the unpredictability of life by applying faithfulness and obedience as you go along.
This short-term focus also allows for bursts of energy and for slower periods of recovery. Setting aside time for rest and recuperation and a slower pace is a key practice for avoiding burnout, for maintaining your engagement with the present, and for sustaining an intentional approach to life. We weren’t made to just keep going and going and going at a frantic, perpetual clip. We were made in God’s image, and God set the pattern for us in working and resting. The rest is just as important a time as the work itself.
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Resting times are woven into the fabric of creation, the way the world works, since the Creation, when God set the pattern by resting on the seventh day. In the same way, we are blessed, refreshed, and revived when we rest in the pattern and manner God has shown us. This is real, and we can see it in several aspects of The Way Things Are.
Interval training for running includes mandatory rest time. The muscles require a down day after such intensity, not only to heal, but to grow and become stronger. Running the intervals is the necessary work, but the progress really happens in the empty spaces between the runs. In the same way, taking time to recover after a sprint of activity is for more than recuperation, it allows time and space for creativity, connections, and synergy to happen. With this pattern, life is not all go-go-go, crowding out opportunities and time for blossoming bonds and ideas. Recovery time is about allowing time for growth to happen.
Just as observing the Sabbath, not striving to get ahead one day a week, is a way of demonstrating and embodying trust that God is the one taking care of us, our business, and the world, so taking a sabbath week break regularly is a way to live out trust in providential care. It’s not that we get time to be lazy, but that we slow down, recognize what is really real and truly true, and operate in a mode of receiving rather than grasping.
Having a week lived at a different pace, in a different mode of mind, allows the mind to open up and see connections and get inspirations that wouldn’t be possible if it’s always wrapped up in catching up and getting ahead. Recovery time is about allowing time for growth without getting pushy and demanding
But, recovery time is also a time for recovery. It’s a time to catch up on the laundry that got out of hand while we focused on a goal. It’s a time to get the closet that’s bothering us dealt with. It’s a time to deal with the papers that stacked up. It’s a time to call and make those appointments that never fit into the average week. A rest week is a way to leave margin in your life.
The recovery week between intervals is also a great time for refocusing on intentions, visions, goals, habits, and your progress. Allowing some calm, quiet space in your life fosters clarity and inspiration for what the next thing to focus on might be. The rest week is a time to do extra review and planning and gear up for another sprint. With this model you don’t cycle from franticness to exhaustion to burnout to apathy and back. Rather, you have space allotted for kicking into high gear and space allotted for roominess and peace. You get the motivation of deadlines without the exhausted feeling of running a marathon uphill.