Do Nothing Goals

balance goals lifestyle Sep 27, 2022
Physician relaxing.  Doctors embracing do nothing goals.




This August, I gave myself one job: Do nothing.  My goal was to rest, rejuvenate and relax.  I have spent so much of my life hustling and achieving that a much-needed rest was undoubtedly in order.  And guess what happened?  I failed.  Miserably.  I couldn’t do it.



It is clear to me that rest is essential.  In fact, rest is physiologic.  Human beings require sleep.  Muscles alternate between contraction and relaxation.  Even computers need to be reset once in a while.  So why can’t I do it?



There are many possible reasons why people struggle to rest, but here are just a few:

  1. Accomplishment junkie.  Some of us, myself included, tie our self-worth to our productivity.  If I am not achieving, I am not worthy of rest.  But, of course, this is a vicious cycle that never allows you to achieve the much-needed rest. 
  2. Many of us have too much to do and too little time to do it.  If you are over-scheduled and overextended, there never appears to be a good time for rest.
  3. Concern about being seen as selfish or laying a burden on others.  If I rest, someone else must pick up the slack.  If I take a vacation, my partners must cover for me.  If I get a massage, my wife must take on the entire burden of parenting. 
  4. If I rest, how can I continue to tweak, modify, and perfect all the things in my life that need perfecting? 
  5. If I rest, I will be stuck with my uncomfortable thoughts.  If I just keep moving, I won’t have to deal with the discomfort of things I don’t want to deal with.



So which of these am I?  All of them.  I identify with every single one of these reasons for not permitting myself to rest.  I have lived so much of my life on the go that I never learned how to allow myself to just be without doing.  There have always been agendas, to-do lists, and tasks that needed to get done.  How do you learn to enjoy activities that are not purpose-driven?  How do you learn to have leisure time on purpose?



Worthiness is an interesting topic.  It is incredible how so many of us feel we need to earn our worthiness.  I learned early in life that I received praise in exchange for achievement.  That praise made me feel worthy in a way few other things could.  And as human brains will have you believe: If a little bit is good, more is better.  So overextension was a natural consequence.  And with each achievement, I received a dopamine hit that allowed me to feel good about myself.  So, of course, the idea of taking time off from achievement doesn’t sit well.  How could it?  But what if we could all just accept that we are already 100% worthy with nothing to prove to ourselves or anyone else?  That might have to be a topic for a different day.



So we have established that I crave rest and have planned for rest, but something frequently interrupts my best-laid plan.  So, what’s the problem?  Is there a key to achieving rest?



As with all changes we want to make in our lives, it starts with awareness.  I need to know rest is something that I want before I can make it a reality. 



Next, I need to uncover what is standing in my way.

  • What are my thoughts about rest?
  • What do I think about myself if I choose rest over accomplishment?
  • Can I be okay with not checking a task off of my to-do list?



Then, I need to experiment.  I need to give myself the space and time to rest and observe what happens.  What happens when I sit down to relax?  Where does my mind go?  How long does it take before I pick up my phone to check my email or social media?  How long does it take me to feel exhausted and want to fall asleep?



And finally, I need to practice.  I need to give myself permission to rest and forgive myself when my busy brain tries to get in the way.  I also get to cut myself some slack and show myself grace for not following through on my plan for relaxation.  In those moments, I get to remind myself that success is built on a pile of failures.  I will never achieve rest if I don’t allow myself an opportunity to fail while trying.



What did I learn from “Do Nothing August?”

  1. I need to start with goals that include smaller time increments.  A month of rest was a lofty goal, and I was not ready for it.
  2. When I set my August Do Nothing goal, I started by deciding to pause several activities.  In so doing, I created space and allowed myself to try new things.  Although I did not “Do Nothing,” I did overcome several obstacles, and I can decide to treat that as a win. 
  3. I hold purpose-driven goals in high esteem, but I also realize that rest is essential.  When I remind myself that rest is necessary and needs to be integrated into my life, I am actively working on my Do Nothing goals.  It turns out that sometimes "doing nothing" requires effort.   Who knew?



I’ve quieted my brain, but I can’t turn it off, which is okay.  I will work on being more intentional with creating space for rest.  I will allow myself time every day to sit for at least 5 minutes without something to do.  I imagine that some days will go better than others.  But each marathon must start with a first step, which sounds like a perfect way to begin my quest for rest and relaxation. 




What are your thoughts about rest?  Can you make rest a priority in your life?  Do you know how to create leisure time on purpose?  Is there a part of you that resists the idea of rest?  What do you make rest mean about yourself?   



I want to invite you to check out my FREE TRAINING.  Click here to get: How Busy Physicians Can Stop Trying To Escape Medicine And Start Living Their Best Life Today.

This training will teach you the five essential tools physicians need to stop feeling disconnected, overwhelmed, and trapped in medicine.  You will also learn how to discover what you truly want in life and how to get it.  



PS.  I get a lot of inspiration from music lyrics.  Many people use inspiring quotes (and I do, too), but music really speaks to me.  I hope you find inspiration in the songs too.


Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song



Click here to read the lyrics.



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