I grew up in a family where work was almost our religion. My parents both worked outside the home and our evenings, weekends and summers were filled with farming, rehabbing houses, and taking care of rental properties, but Sunday was different.
On Sundays we went to church and afterwards visited family, sometimes driving hours to be with them for lunch or dinner. We paused and appreciated all we’d accomplished and all we had to be thankful for. It recharged our batteries and gave us renewed energy to begin a new week.
Blue laws forced us to take a break as a society when I was a kid, closing stores and entertainment venues with the intention of encouraging people to attend church. Over time, as our society changed, stores were opened 24/7, soccer and baseball games were scheduled all weekend, and Sunday became like any other day. The concept of taking a break from our rushing and doing fell away.
When our 30-something pastor talked about the concept of the Sabbath and its importance in his sermon recently, his comments brought back these memories and triggered a moment of self-recognition.
Once I’ve finished something, no matter how significant, I rarely take the time to step back and appreciate what’s been accomplished. Instead, I’m looking at the next item on my to-do list and focusing on what’s still unfinished. While I appreciate inheriting my parents work ethic and energy levels, I realize this habit can create a sense of ‘nothing is ever enough’ if left unchecked. This is where the concept of Sabbath comes in.
A time of pause and reflection is based on ancient wisdom and religious practices. People who came before us realized how important it was to take time to appreciate the good things that happen in our lives before we rush onto the next event. Without this moment of pause and reflection, we become harried, unappreciative, and lose our perspective of how wonderful our lives really are, how much we may have accomplished, and all we have to be thankful for – regardless of the next goal we may have on our to-do list.
It’s no different in our financial lives. If you’ve accomplished a savings goal, built the home of your dreams, or found a way to break a bad financial habit, taking time to appreciate what you’ve accomplished before looking at all the work you still have left to do can help recharge you for tackling your next goal. You don’t need to stop working, just appreciate the work you’ve already done – even for a moment or two – before jumping onto the next item on your list.
My husband and I are working on weekends to reclaim the woods around our home from honeysuckle that was left unchecked and repairing old gardens that fell into disrepair. In the past, I was always focused on everything that still needs work rather than appreciating the beauty of the work we’ve already finished. Yesterday I made a point to walk our yard and appreciate how far we’ve already come, and it was surprising what a difference that 30 minutes made in my attitude the rest of the day.
The sense of urgency and stress that’s built into our modern lives was put there when we began ignoring the simple practice of Sabbath and appreciation. I think it’s time to try it again. It doesn’t have to be a day. Just take a breath and give yourself a little time to appreciate the progress you’ve already made.