Ever feel guilty for taking time off?
When I quit my job in 2009, the first question everyone asked me was: What are you going to do?
“Taking a few months off,” wasn’t an adequate answer for most people.
“Are you going back to school? Looking for another job?” They would press for more information.
I’d shake my head no. “I don’t know. I’m taking a few months to think about it.”
I quickly discovered this stressed other people out more than me. I had put aside enough money for 5-6 months of living expenses and was happily embracing unemployment for a time. But not many people understood why I would do such a thing.
It was the second time I’d taken off a big chunk of time. The first time was after Eric died in 2005. People were more understanding that time. There was a clear reason. It made sense.
Over the past 6 years I’ve worked several part-time jobs, including working for myself, teaching for the Department of State, and contracting with a couple consulting companies. The busyness of my life fluctuates quite dramatically (known as ‘feast or famine’ to the self-employed).
I’ve noticed taking time off isn’t always easy whether you work for yourself or for someone else.
When it comes to my own business, it’s easy to let self-imposed deadlines create a tremendous amount of pressure and stress. And because they’re self-imposed, they can drag on for quite some time. The pressure and stress build to the point of anxiety for me at times.
After Eric died, I remember telling a friend that I never wanted to get caught up in the ‘rat race’ of work again. Life was too short and unpredictable.
But I do get caught up in the ‘rat race’ sometimes. It’s hard not to.
This past week I felt ‘caught’ again. And I started reflecting on time off. I noticed it was difficult to give myself permission to take time off. Even though I had taken off several months a few years ago, I was having trouble taking just a few days this time!
Maybe that’s a clear sign: it’s time for time off!
I’ve got a choice to make about my life and schedule. I can choose to take time off. I can choose to slow down. I can (at times) choose to change deadlines to make room for the people and things that matter most.
It’s not easy. But I believe it’s worth the effort.
I can’t say how much time off is right for you, but I challenge you to ask yourself a few questions: When’s the last time you took time off? What would it be like to pause (even if just for a few hours) and give yourself some breathing space? Who would you spend the time with? What would you do?
This coming weekend is the Easter holiday where I’m from. Holidays are a great time to pause, reflect on what matters, spend time with the people we love, and take a step back from the daily busyness.
Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, I invite you to consider what and who matter most to you today. And enjoy some time off.
Life is precious. Let’s enjoy every moment!