The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age

by Claudia Hammond

This book is for achievers who feel exhausted because when you’re exhausted, your performance suffers. Getting rest is part of the solution.

My takeaways from this book are:

  • Rest isn’t the same as sleep.
    This explains why I can sleep yet not feel rested! Rest is about how we unwind, calm our minds and recharge our bodies. Both are needed, and most of us are not getting enough of either. While there’s rightfully a great deal of focus on the importance of sleep, there’s not much on the need for rest. That’s where this book comes in. Hammond shares the results from the “Rest Test” study she and colleagues did of 18,000 people globally.
  • Each of us has a different definition of what we find restful.
    The book focuses on the 10 most popular ways to rest. For example, I feel rested after a workout or while playing piano. But my husband prefers to plop down on the couch and watch television. The author finds gardening restful but that didn’t make it into the top 10. There’s no one “right way” and hopefully you’ll have multiple ways to rest. Including doing not much of anything!
  • What matters is to find your best ways to rest and then fit them into your day.
    When you’re “crazy busy”, it’s time to give yourself permission to rest. It will improve your performance more than if you just keep going. When you feel stressed, it’s time to prescribe yourself 15 minutes of your favorite restful activity. Again, your performance will soar after that break. How will you get the rest you need to perform at your best?

The biggest impact this book has had on my performance is to realize that I’ve taken potentially restful activities (like walking in nature) and turned them into stressful activities (like turning that walk into a workout activity).

Thanks to the examples in the book, I now see that I don’t have to do everything with my signature intensity. In fact, it’s counterproductive to peak performance.

Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork

by Dan Sullivan with Dr. Benjamin Hardy

This book is useful for those of us who struggle to delegate. It’s also useful if you have big goals that you’re putting off or struggling to achieve because you don’t know how to go about them. And if you believe that “if you want something done right, do it yourself”, then you need to read this book right away.

My takeaways from this book are:

  • Often, we’re asking the wrong question.
    When you want to accomplish something – especially something big – the tendency is to ask, “How can I do this?” This results in time spent researching, worrying, struggling, or procrastinating because you don’t know how to get started. It takes longer and doesn’t necessarily produce the right answer. Worse yet, you might abandon that ambitious project or goal and settle for something less.
  • Instead, ask “Who can help me achieve this?”
    This instantly engages a more hopeful, optimistic frame of mind. It’s no longer all on your shoulders to achieve the big goal. You’re looking for people who can help you advance faster, easier and more effectively than you could on your own. It’s a game changer!
  • Shifting to “who not how” thinking gives you more freedom.
    Instead of being limited by what you can do on your own, you’ll free up time and mindspace to do what matters most while also achieving those bigger goals. For example, instead of wondering how you’ll get visibility with senior management or a big client, ask yourself who can help you meet those people. Instead of asking how you can keep your house clean and do your job and have time with family and yourself, try asking who can help you achieve those things.

The biggest impact this book had on me was to help me gain confidence to think bigger and bolder. I’m no longer letting my performance possibilities be limited by my fear of not being able to do it all on my own.

How to capture what you learn

Since I was going to read so many books with my new reading habit, I thought I had better come up with a system for keeping track of what I learned. A sort of reference guide I could return to later.

As you’ll see, I’m still experimenting and haven’t landed on “the way” to capture my learnings… yet.

For The Big Leap, it was copious notetaking. Here’s the first page to give you a sense…

The Big Leap notes

For The Long Game, I got ambitious and created a “doodle”…

The Long Game notes

For Let It Be Easy, I did the simplest thing – scribble my favorite quotes in the book itself…

Let It Be East notes

How will you set yourself up to perform at your best in the new year?

Now is a great time to nourish yourself and prepare for being at your best in the year to come, no matter what it may bring.

I’ve found these books helpful and maybe they’ll help you too:

What books have helped you to be your best self this year?

Remember that it’s a “win” when you share what you know to help others. So please leave a comment with your recommendation(s) and let’s start your winning streak now!

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