Monday, August 08, 2011

Message #15 - Call Time Out!

This is another in a series of messages:

You have too much to do and can’t get it all done.

You’re tired when you go to bed and tired when you wake up.

You’re grouchy.

You don’t see enough of your partner or your kids or other loved ones.

You can’t get off the treadmill.

You need a vacation but don’t take one.

You’re not having any fun.

Call Time Out!

I know, I know. You’ll do it, but you’re waiting for the right time. Well, guess what – the right time will never come. You’ll always have a reason not to do it. And you’ll convince yourself the reason is really important, so you’ll have a valid justification for continuing to be a jerk.

There is no right way to take care of you. First, you need to get serious about it. Given your history that might be a steep mountain to climb. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you can summon up the courage and accept the challenge. Then what?

Find out what works. You might:

n Go away on vacation, even for 2 or 3 weeks, and totally break your routine

n Go away for long weekends

n Stay at home and take weekends off

n Stay at home and take one day off

n Regularly take a few hours and do something you don’t normally do, just for fun

n Join a health club – and use it often

n Exercise, play a sport you enjoy, do yoga, meditate, go to a ballgame . . .

n Anything that will energize you, get your juices going again, and which you haven’t been doing – for whatever reason

You’ll soon know if what you’re doing is helping.

Back in the day, when I was working hard, I found out what I could do to stay healthy physically and mentally, relieve stress, and reinvigorate myself. Whenever it was possible I would take a couple of hours in the evening and have a good dinner and drink some good wine. When I was home I’d usually do this alone with Sandra. When I was traveling I’d either do it alone or with friends or colleagues. My only rule was that I wouldn’t use this time as a continuation of my workday.

It wasn’t always easy. Especially when I was on the road doing a consulting job and dinner would be with people working on the same project. I had to work hard to train my colleagues to stop talking about the client. Once they’d accepted the wisdom of my advice and practiced this new way of living they became converts. I loved it. We improved our effectiveness and had fun in the process.

Give me two hours out of 24 away from it all and I was good to go full out for another day.

I also found that a three-week vacation once a year made a big difference. I would dedicate the first week to unwinding, decompressing and letting a year of non-stop work dissipate. The second week was exhilarating. No agenda. Nothing I had to do. The third week was also free, but now I’d begin thinking about what I wanted to do when I went back to work. These three weeks always were a very creative period of time. It was a gift I gave to myself, and well worth it.

What if you have a 9 to 5 job and are not under any particular pressure at work or maybe you are a stay-at-home mom raising three kids? Does what I’m talking about apply to you? Absolutely.

Why? Because your unchanging routine leaves you bored. You may not need a break because you work too hard. You need a change because your day-to-day activity has deadened your spirit. You owe it to yourself to regain your zest, your enthusiasm for what is available in life.

So my message to you is the same. Find out what works for you and do it.

And to begin, Call Time Out!


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