The number of Americans who live paycheck-to-paycheck is growing every year. Some of this can be contributed to wage or job growth suppression or cost of living outpacing income. Much of it, however, is because we live beyond our means in the land of wants versus needs. We encumber ourselves with unnecessary debt to have the things we want.

Another trend I am noticing is that people are living vacation to vacation. They are working to rest instead of resting to work. We have overextended ourselves to the point where we feel like we have to work all of the time. We have gone from being a culture of “fine” when asked how we are doing to a culture of “busy”. It seems that every moment of every day is filled with some activity. Even when we do get to vacation, we fill every possible moment with something to do because we are afraid of wasting our time off.

Let me be clear, this is not my strength. My wife is constantly asking me if I can just do nothing. I am always looking for something else to do. What this creates is limited margin and sometimes high stress. Until the last few years, I have not given a lot of thought to the effects of this or the need to change. However, the effects that it has had on my own life and the rise of people who are living vacation to vacation, has gained my attention.

It doesn’t seem to matter how often they come or how long they are, vacations never seem long enough or come quickly enough. People seem to be at the breaking point if they can’t get away for a few days yet fill their time off with even more exhausting activities only to come back more tired than when they left. When we work to rest we have the process backwards.

The best way to be the most productive is to do exactly the opposite. We should be resting to work. Rest should be one of the highest priorities we have. We are multiple times more productive when we have enough rest than when we do not. What if the reason we are so stressed out at our job is because we are not getting enough rest? What if we can’t think as clearly as we need to or can’t be as productive as we want to because we have failed to recharge? How much stress could we reduce if we had more rest?

This is not just about vacation time or weekends. This is about a daily routine of rest; making sure we get plenty of sleep each night and resting our bodies while we are awake. It’s about actually resting when we go on vacation instead of feeling like we have to cram every minute full of activities. Trust me, I understand the struggle. I’m writing this at about 6:30 in the morning while I am on vacation since I’ve been up since 3:00 AM. On the other side of that, I had absolutely no agenda yesterday and just rested with the family. I have also been very intentional over the past year to make sure I am getting enough sleep.

We all need to work and be productive. Our survival depends on it. But, our survival and ability to work and be productive are dependent on our ability to rest. I encourage you to order your life in a way that you rest to work instead of working to rest. It is a matter of priorities. You may see a significant difference if you make a few small changes.

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