For seven years I’ve been going nonstop. Since getting my first full-time job out of college back in 2012, and apart from the occasional vacation, I’ve worked constantly.
This all changed last month when I was laid off. It has now been 29 days (but who’s counting) since I’ve worked a full day. In this transition period, I’ve noticed a lot of things about myself that I was blind to when I was in the midst of a busy and demanding sales job.
The biggest discovery I’ve made is my resistance to slowing down. At some point within the first seven years of my career I got caught up in the fast-paced movement of my career and I never let myself take a break. What started as working eleven hour days on the internal sales desk at John Hancock evolved into working weekends on this blog or other “side hustles.”
It’s safe to say, I
was am addicted to working.
Even over the last month, as I’ve technically been out of work, I’ve found myself spending my days working on a series of tasks. I’m addicted to feeling busy. I’m addicted to “getting stuff done.”
I’ve noticed the same thing with the former colleagues of mine who also got laid off last month. They’ll text me every few days and ask “how’s the job search going?” or “any luck yet?” One woman who I worked with even landed a job already! That was fast.
Each one of us has been in “Go Mode” ever since we entered into unemployment. We don’t want the uncertainty of our next paycheck hanging over our head. We don’t want to go home for the holidays to face our families as the jobless relative. We just want to get back on the horse and get out of this scary world of unemployment.
We want to be busy again.
But what if by rushing back into our careers we’re missing a big opportunity? Aren’t we missing our chance to slow down, relax and reflect on what we really want? Wouldn’t the biggest mistake be to hastily launch ourselves back into a situation that makes us unhappy?
So then, how do you stop and reflect in this tumultuous time?
The key is to break up your days of resume building and networking with a day of leisure.
Yes – You need to escape.
Yesterday was my day to escape. I cleared my calendar, put my phone on airplane mode and left my computer at home. I took the 2 Train from Brooklyn up to 110th St in Harlem and started a day-long journey through Manhattan’s Central Park. I spent the beautiful, crisp fall day exploring the North Woods, the Conservatory Garden and Strawberry Fields. I wandered around all afternoon lying under trees, meditating and reading.
It was a day to clear my head. It was a day to put that crazy “Go Mode” on hold. It was a day for me.
I am grateful for this day. It was a day that never would have happened if I was still at my old job. It was a day that never would have happened if I launched into a new job too quickly.
On top of the escape it provided, the day also gave me new insights and clarity that hadn’t come to me in my normal “Go, Go, Go” mentality. It wasn’t until I stopped and put my tireless mind on hold for a day that I was able to do some truly deep work.
I now have more direction, energy and focus. I feel rejuvenated and excited again. And it’s all because I was able to slow down.
Don’t let this crazy world tell you that you need to sprint from one part of your life to the next. Don’t believe that the answers always lie in taking action. When you’re at a crossroads in life, find your own version of an escape.
You’ll be amazed at what you can discover.