In Silicon Valley, where I live, the reigning assumption is that success is a race against time and obsolescence. If you’re not rich by the time you’re thirty, before your skills become obsolete and you become too decrepit to work hundred-hour weeks, you never will be.
This is a model that works fabulously well for a tiny number of people. But many more people who work this way burn themselves out, with little to show for it at the end. But people who learn to rest deliberately can ultimately get more done, for longer periods of their lives. Their careers aren’t races against time, because they don’t have to be.
There’s little that’s inherently or immediately pleasurable in deliberate practice, so you need a strong sense that these long hours will pay off, and that you’re not just improving your career prospects but also crafting a professional and personal identity. You don’t just do it for the fat stacks. You do it because it reinforces your sense of who you are and who you will become.
A day that starts with work creates rest that can be enjoyed without guilt. When you start early, the rest you take is the rest you’ve earned.
“I have walked myself into my best thoughts,” declared the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.
Napping, in other words, turns out to be a skill.
In this book, I’ve argued that we should treat work and rest as equals; that we should treat rest as a skill; that the best, most restorative kinds of rest are active; and that when practiced well, rest can make us more creative and productive, without fording us into a funhouse mirror of endless work, and ever-rising expectations. A life that takes rest seriously is not only a more creative life. When we take the right to rest, when we make rest fulfilling, and when we practice rest through our days and years, we also make our lives richer and more fulfilling.
Finally, deliberate rest helps you live a good life.
The fact that deliberate rest is skilled and active makes it more effective, more energizing and restorative, than passive forms of entertainment. Deliberate rest also serves as a hedge against narrowness and intellectual atrophy. This is why some of the strongest advocates for active rest are people in super busy jobs.
When we treat rest as work’s equal partner, recognize it as playground fro the creative mind and springboard for new ideas, and see it as an activity that we can practice and improve, we elevate rest into something that can help calm our days, organize our lives, give us more time, and help us achieve more while working less. Lubbock was right. Rest is not idleness.