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The other day a friend asked me, “What exactly do you do all day?” He meant it in the nicest way possible – he was genuinely curious about how I spend my copious amounts of free time – but my gut reaction was to get defensive. I’m busy, I wanted to reply. I’m productive, I’m not wasting my time, I promise.

I used to life my life with my extreme busyness as proof that I must be valuable and important. My calendar was so full of back-to-back meetings that my assistant would try to schedule in time for me to go to the bathroom or eat a quick lunch. I used to complain about being so busy, but secretly I was proud. Being busy, having a to-do list a mile long, constantly looking forward to the next goal, was an addiction. I fed off the high I got from checking things off my list, from jetting off to meetings, from being able to recount everything I accomplished that day/week/month. I equated my worth as an individual with how much I accomplished.

Leaving my job forced me to confront my addiction head on. I got a lot of advice from friends when I left about how I should be sure to set goals and objectives for my time off, otherwise I’d feel like I was – god forbid – wasting time. Like the type A overachiever that I am, I took their advice to heart and sat down to write my goals. Otherwise, how could I know whether I was getting an “A” in not working? Except something in me rebelled, because this is what I wrote down in my journal:

During my time off I want to:

  • get 8 hours (or more!) of sleep each night
  • exercise every day (Monday-Friday) and once Saturday/Sunday
  • learn new crafty skills that I can use to help make our life and our home more comfortable, enjoyable and fun
  • reconnect with friends and family and re-establish relationships that are important to me
  • eat delicious and healthy food that makes me feel good and supports my goal of loosing weight
  • practice some foundational habits that I believe will help me be happier, e.g. mediation, writing in my journal daily, making our bed
  • let my mind wander
  • be present in the moment
  • laugh. a lot
That’s it. I didn’t write that I wanted to run a marathon, write a book, travel to 20 countries, learn a new language, or start a business. I’ve had more than enough time to do many of those things, but I realized somewhere along the way that doing things, checking off boxes, wasn’t the point of my sabbatical. I need to learn how to not do, how to be, how to find value in who I am whether I get zero things accomplished in a day or 50. Learning to slow down, to listen to my body, to reshape how I think about myself, my values and how I want to spend my time has been a huge challenge. I’m not there yet, by any means, but I’m making steady progress and I’m trying to remind myself that, at the end of the day, this will be more important than being able to brag about everything I’ve done.
Now if ¬†you’ll excuse me, I have to go check “write blog post” off of my to-do list…







One Response to What exactly do you do?

  1. Janie says:

    So btw…wondering if you’ve tried making sour dough bread yet? By chance did you save out starter? I thought maybe you might have worked out the kinks for me ;)….

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