The Value of Vacation

One of the reasons I’m good at my job is that I go through and have gone through many of the same things my clients do. My area of performance has been and is different than yours, but the details of what makes me successful are the same as what makes you.

Of course that means I fall into the same traps that I help many of you get out. The one I recently fell in was forgetting the value of rest, time away from work and maintaining good balance between my work and personal life. After 4 days in Florida last week, I returned to work refreshed and with a stronger perspective on how I want my life to be. It was simple. It was something I share and advocate with many of you – including in my first video and yet it some really important pieces hadn’t quite sunk in for me.

The gap between doing what we say – and not just saying it for others is pretty damm common – and I’ve been unfair in holding myself to a higher standard expecting that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes other people make. I’ve recently been going to physical therapy to rehab a bum ankle and the PT casually mentioned that he should do more of what he’s telling me to do – but doesn’t. I’m not sure he even realized what he said – but ironically enough he looks like he lost some extra weight over the month+ since he said it.

It isn’t just him though; I hear it a lot from people in conversations about a lot of things – my mom telling me not to speed while driving then doing it herself, buddies sharing relationship advice only to make the same mistakes. I’ve overheard strangers giving advice while at the same time admitting they don’t follow it. Plus often times they don’t even realize it – my mom at least gets she’s not a good role model in this regard.

A big reason why this is – it’s f%$#ing hard to improve. There’s a huge difference between knowing something and integrating into something that you do. That fact is a big reason why I have a job and something that I work hard to figure out better ways all the time. But sometimes I forget that I play by the same rules –that what I teach applies to me and forgetting the value in a vacation is a prime example.

Figuring out a good balance for the amount that I work has been a work in progress ever since I ventured out on my own. Shortly after things started to get settled, I got lax about work and coasted. Perhaps because I had worked hard, and wanted some fun, but more so I just didn’t have the skill yet about how to work for myself. How to find a pace to my work that fit my industry and fit how I wanted to live.

I also completely underestimated what it meant to be 100% responsible for all of my time. Even though it was exactly what I wanted, and thought I knew how to do it, I didn’t. I didn’t realize how my I had relied on the structure provide by 18 years of school and 2 years working for a boss. And now it was all on my shoulders.

The bottom line is that as my life grows, priorities do too. In the last 3 months, I dove myself so deep into working on my book that I lost touch with a lot of close people and spent a lot of my free time with my immediate family. Having a new neice around has motivated me to want to spend a lot of time with her. I love my family a lot, and having them as who I was hanging out with most was putting too much pressure on our relationships. I missed my friends and didn’t even realize it. Sure I hung out with a couple of buddies and cousins who live nearby, but for the most part my life was work.

Of course all work and no play makes Jared a boring dude.

I realized that on my trip back and so far this week have done a great job of getting thing back in order. Plus now that I’m done with physical therapy – which took up 3hrs twice a week, I have even more time to get my life properly in order.

Working for myself, plus having lots of projects going on and ideas for the future gives me the option to literally work 24/7. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 5 years is that the more I work, the more I learn the more options I have for my work and the more that I can do in the future. This reminds me a bit of something my professor in college – “college is designed to leave you with more questions than you came with.” The idea is the same – the more I work, the more I learn, the more options become available.

As I say to my clients often – there is always more if you want it. There isn’t some point where you’ll arrive like you’ve won the lottery and be done, unless that’s what you want. Financial stability is a big key for me, as I’m sure it is for many of you. But money doesn’t mean you know how to use that money to create the life that you want. It sure as hell gives you options, but why wait until then to figure out what’s important to you!?!

That was my thought – once I get the book done – then I’ll take some time off. But during my time off – I wondered what kind of a life I’d have left if I stayed on that path when I was done? It wasn’t what I wanted. So I realize now that there are a lot of small things I can do to sustain the rest of my life in the time that I have, so when I do take time off I have a lot to fill that time with – even when that just means an hour at the end of the day.

I’ve seen this pattern show up before and this time is different for a number of reasons. The biggest one is the consequences I’ve felt the past few months in my overall mood and my productivity with work. The inertia of having practically lost a lot of people in my life wore me down and burned me out. I was more tired, less happy and just wasn’t having a lot of fun. Plus in general I was far more aware of how my actions created these problems. The connections are clear. A+B does = feeling like shit.

I told a friend last night that in a way I learned what a lot of people learn when they do actually lose a friend to death – you realize how important they were to your live. In loss we can learn about value. In the loss of my life, I learned more about its value. In the loss of time away I learned more about the value of it too.
I’m glad I’ve written this down, at least for myself. I am certain that I’ll be tested in the future about how I balance my time between work and the rest of my life, and this will be a helpful reminder. I hope it is for you too.

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