As the holidays get closer, schedules get busier. There are parties to attend, pageants to go to, rehearsals for Christmas shows, tree lightings, decorations to buy and hang, presents to buy and wrap, food to prepare and all the while, still keeping up with everything else you do.
December 26th will roll around and most people will want to fall over in a heap of exhaustion, but there’s no time. We have to return clothes that don’t fit, clothes that are ugly, buy things that are on sale and get Christmas cards and decorations for next year because they are on sale for 80% off.
Over the next several weeks, people will quietly vent about all that they are doing and will do to friends and family, they will make resolutions in January about slowing down, eating better, working less, checking Facebook and email less, and signing their kids up for less activities. Only to find in February that they can’t wait for summer to hit so they can take a week off and sit around.
But we all know how summer goes.
In these conversations about pace, tiredness, doing too much, working too much, sleeping too little, an interesting work and concept comes up.
Whenever someone says they are tired or doing too much, a friend with good intentions will respond, “You need to get balance in your life.” We talk about work life balance. Balancing schedules, checkbooks, planners, and activities.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, balance is a pipedream.
The next time someone tells you that you need to have more balance in your life, ask him or her what that means or looks like. You’ll get blank stares.
No one seems to know.
Yet, everyone is going for it.
Here’s a better way to think about life, work, kids, money, sleep, food and anything else you try to get balance in.
Every time you say yes to something you say no to something else.
Think about it like this. Whenever you say yes to staying up too late watching TV and eating ice cream you say no to a good night sleep, more sleep and a trimmer waist line.
Whenever you say yes to sign your child up for everyone team and activity you can throw at them, you say no to a sustainable pace, family dinners and overall health.
Whenever you say yes to work late you may say yes to a promotion and more money, but you also say no to family time, relaxing, time with friends and unwinding with a good book.
When you say yes to going into debt, you say no to peace in your life and bank account.
When you say yes to that extra piece of pie over the holidays, you say no to health.
Remember, balance is a pipe dream.
Are all these examples wrong? Not at all. You should eat some good dessert over the holidays. You should sign your kids up for fun things. You should buy nice things you can afford and bless others with nice presents. All of those are great things.
Take a minute though and remember last December, last January and February. What did you feel? Exhaustion, a longing for a break and rest that never came.
Now, the question isn’t should I do these things, it is more about, and what do you want to say yes to and say no to. Because, every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else. Every time.
Listen and come ready to sing loud on Sunday!
Every Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Eat Move Sleep: Why Small Choices Make a Big Difference (kindle version) by Tom Rath. I actually read this book back in June, but it releases today, hence the review.
I’ve been fascinated by health and fitness for some time, ever since losing 130 pounds and keeping it off. So, Rath’s book was right up my alley.
Two things that are obvious about this book from the title:
- Every choice we make matters. They all impact every part of our life.
- Tom Rath looks at how to eat, move and sleep so that those choices make the most positive impact in our lives.
As Rath states,
What seem like small or inconsequential moments accumulate rapidly. When your good daily decisions outweigh your poor ones, you boost your chances of growing old in better health.
Now, if you’ve lived a relatively healthy life, watch what you eat, exercise and sleep well, most of what Rath says will simply be a reminder. While I’ve read a lot about weight loss and health, I still found good tidbits I have never heard before and was reminded of some things that are easy to forget.
Here are a few things that stuck out to me as helpful:
- The types of foods you consume influence your health more than your total caloric intake.
- The best performers sleep at least 8.6 hours a day, almost a full hour more than the national average.
- The top performers in every field typically work/practice in focused sessions lasting no longer than 90 minutes.
- Losing 90 minutes of sleep reduces daytime alertness by nearly one-third. If you consider all the things that demand your attention in a day, reducing alertness by one-third is consequential.
- A study of over 80,000 people suggests total intake of fruits and vegetables is a robust predictor of overall happiness.
- When food is served “family style” from large plates, bowls or platters placed in arms’ reach, people simply eat more.
- Anytime someone is hungry and in a hurry, it results in a bad choice.
- The first to order food at a restaurant is an anchor for the rest of the table and sets the tone for what others order.
- We eat based on the size of our plates.
- We are more likely to make a bad food choice when a healthy option is available compared with when no healthy options are available.
- Couples in which one partner has a commute longer than 45 minutes are a whopping 40% more likely to get divorced.
- The dish you start with serves as an anchor food for your entire meal. Experiments show that people eat nearly 50% greater quantity of the food they eat first.
- People consume 167 additional calories per hour while watching TV.
An overall helpful, quick read.
Watched this great interview with Mark Driscoll today on the topics of preaching and sermon prep. If you preach, this is a great interview to watch. Lots of wisdom.
I talked this past Sunday about the idols of the heart and what drives us to do what we do. Yesterday after breakfast, Katie pointed something out to me in Isaiah 46.
While our idols drive us and only the gospel can transform our hearts to be driven by Jesus. We also look to our idols to carry us, to give us rest, to complete us.
We look for achievement to give us rest. When we’ve accomplished enough, we’ll have enough. When we have enough school, we’ll be enough. When we’ve taken enough vacations, we’ll have enough experiences.
When we have enough power, we’ll have enough control. We’ll have enough followers, enough employees. We’ll be important and feared because we have power.
When we have enough stuff, we’ll be able to slow down and rest. We’ll be able to sit on our new deck furniture, watch our huge TV from our plush chair.
We’ll finally be able to rest, because our idols will carry us.
Except. We lose employees. This year award becomes next year’s forgotten winner. That degree becomes not enough in 5 years when someone else gets one more degree than you. That vacation next year will be a distant memory when you hear about a new place, a new resort, a new experience. That power will fade as your company gets bought out or a new boss comes in and the game changes. And stuff rots and falls apart and last years most amazing TV becomes next month’s “last season’s model.”
Our idols fail. They do not carry us. They do not give us rest.
Isaiah 46:8-9 says:
Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
The National is easily one of my favorite bands. Here they are on Conan.
Paul taught this song this past week and it is incredible. We’re singing it again this week, get ready.