Rhythms of Self-Care


What got you here won’t get you there!

It’s a leadership principle I’ve thought a lot about over the years, but never saw how apropos it was for the rhythms of self-care. That is, until two months ago.

I was giving a presentation to a group of high caliber ministry leaders on what I’ve learned about the rhythms of life and work that my soul needs in order to thrive. As we dove into some Q&A, one of them made this comment: “As I sit here listening, it dawns on me that I am practicing the things that served me well in the past. But, as my role has changed and grown, those rhythms are simply not robust enough to sustain me in the present.”

That’s when the a-ha hit me:

When your role changes, your responsibilities grow, and the demands on you increase,
you need to adjust your rhythms of self-care if you are going to thrive. 

There is no one size fits all and there is no way for someone else to simplistically prescribe  a plan for you. You can probably easily identify what’s not working, but you’ll need to explore and experiment until you find what fits you.

Here are some areas to consider and literally toy with until you land on what serves you.


Managing Your Workflow?
… when are you at your best for the different types of work you need to do?
… when do you block time for creative and deep thought shaped work?
… when are you unavailable?
… what would an ideal day or ideal week look like for you and what are you doing to create as much of that as possible?

Thinking Time?
… I read a comment by Buffett saying he spends 80% of his time thinking. What you do in public is shaped by what is addressed and conceived in private. So, where is thinking time blocked into your schedule?

… internal well-being and physical well-being are inseparable. So, what are you doing these days? Is it enough?

Altitude/ Long-Range Perspective?
… What are your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual practices that help you look beyond the horizon for perspective and fresh priorities?
… When do you work on long range goals and dreams?
… How clear are you on your calling or unique contribution and how have you linked your calendar to that calling?

Spiritual Disciplines?
… what are your best practices for entering into and lingering in the presence of Christ?
… what disciplines do you practice that take you beyond the simple notions of quick daily devotional?
… Where is there space in your life for regular reflection, listening prayer, journaling, etc.


My personal game plan

You’re not me, so I make no assumption that what I need mirrors what you need. But, for the sake of an example, here are a few of the things that I am learning to practice. I devote my mornings until noon for my big four: Reading, Writing, Exercise, and the deep-thought-required tasks that are usually Quadrant II stuff. In fact, these days, I start my mornings earlier than ever so that before diving into anything else, I have unhurried time reflection and communion with Christ. On a weekly basis, I don’t do any appointments on Monday’s—I actually call it Monk mode—and use the day to gain perspective, do some writing, and get ahead on the creative deep thought related projects on my plate. If you’d like to see more, on my broader rhythms, CLICK HERE.

But, the real question is what do you need?

Do a little evaluation. Begin to experiment. Toy with doing things a different way. And, keep at it until you find the practices, rhythms, and self-management disciplines that will empower you to thrive, for the long haul?





For More, See these Related Posts:
My “Pirates Code”
Elasticity and Time fore Reflection

Self-Care is not Selfish

It was early Friday morning and I really wanted to get out for a bike ride. I needed the exercise, I knew the outdoors and sweat would do me good, but I had a long list of projects that needed to be completed. I had a few things already beyond their deadlines and people were needing them.

So I faced a dilemma. Hop on my bicycle and get in a good 60 minute workout or dive straight into the tasks screaming at me? Do something that would be good for me or take care of things that other people needed?

Then it hit me. Self-Care will always feel self-serving. Doing what other people need always feels more heroic, more gallant. Taking care of me feels inherently selfish.

However, the list of things that other people need is never ending. There is always more to do, more attention that could be given to any project, more email or phone calls. If I wait until all of those are addressed I will never get out to do some of what I need for my own health and well-being. I will always put it off, choosing the urgent instead of the important.

Twelve years ago I wrote the first draft of a personal calling statement. It has morphed and focused over the years, but one component that hasn’t changed is the commitment I made to live in such a way that I am accelerating at age 80.  That is, in every area of life — spiritually, relationally, intellectually, and physically — I want to still be gaining speed when I turn 80.  (I will worry about what comes after that then.)

I realize that taking care of my body is one of the most important components of fulfilling that calling.  It is the only vehicle God has given me through which I can engage in everything that matters. Being a steward of this body is non-negotiable if I intend to be accelerating at 80.  However, even though I get it intellectually, on a day by day basis I get seduced into taking care of other people and other things at the expense taking care of myself.

Last Friday was a breakthrough.

The truth is, unless I appropriately care for the only body I have, I will be out of the game and unable to contribute to the world in any significant way. So, while it may seem selfish to put a few people or projects on a temporary hold, at the end of the day it is the only way to steward everything God has put within my reach. Self-care is not only unselfish, it is actually one of the major priorities for any leader. Leaders cannot live at the red-line and hope to stay in the game?

I’ll see you on the bike path.