Take a break

The other day I took the opportunity to reconnect with a friend, just to check in. In asking her how she was, she mentioned that she turned her notice in, but decided to stay a bit longer since they have some staffing issues right now. Her goal is to start her own business. When I mentioned it to El Hombre a bit later, his question was, “Doing what? It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you don’t have a plan.” And his question got me thinking.

So many people I know bemoan having to work for others, but have no idea what kind of work they would do themselves. By the time they get home, they are too tired or too stressed to start working on their own business plan. This is true, but I think the problem lies deeper than working for someone else. Based on my current experience of being out of the work force, I’ve realized that we don’t give ourselves enough time. We spend hours in traffic, sitting at desks or on conference calls, and then hop back in to more traffic to get home. Once home we rush through dinner, often glued to our phones or computers and we end up immersing ourselves in shallow needs that don’t bring any real joy in to our lives. I raise my hand as someone who’s guilty of all of this.

Sometimes you just need to take a break. Whether you take the ultimate leap of faith and quit a job entirely, or just take a month (or two) off. But a week is not enough. You need time to break out of the habit of obsessively checking emails or your phone for updates. You also need time to invest in yourself. And I don’t mean spending money, I mean spending time. Whether you enjoy cooking, reading, working in the yard, exercising. Whatever it is that you look forward to when you aren’t focusing on work.

Is it realistic for everyone to randomly quit a job? No. You have to plan for it. Even if you are lucky and you take a sabbatical (which I believe every company should offer for long-term employees), you are still often without income. But it is amazing how much better you feel when you aren’t wishing away the majority of your life for two days of work-free existence. You feel more inspired, creative and generally satisfied.

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