No matter how you spend an average day, and no matter how much you love what you do, we all need a break from our routine occasionally. I learned this years ago, when I was in a corporate career. I planned my vacations months in advance and made irreversible plans, like buying non-refundable plane tickets, and hooking other family members into vacation commitments. Because I knew if I did not set aside that time for me, that something “really really important” would come up, and would pre-empt the vacation plans. I saw it happen with many of my co-workers who ended the year with leftover vacation days... can you imagine that? Not me; I used up all of my time-off allotment every year, and felt not even a smidgeon of guilt about it!
Even now that I am in a vocation that I love, and that I am grateful for every client or student who enters my path, sometimes I need downtime. I was reminded of this on our recent trip to Key West… I know, tough life. Mike and I bought a timeshare there in 1989, and it’s an annual personal retreat for us. Sometimes with family and friends, and sometimes just the two of us. But the plan is always the same... no big plans while we are there! This year, it was just Mike and me. It was so relaxing; no pressure to be anywhere or do anything, no schedules.
Key West really is paradise for me. But it does not need to be a grand getaway to take a break however. Sometimes it’s about canceling some plans when my plate is overflowing. Or telling someone, yes I would love to see you, but not today. Other times it might be calling a friend and going out to play… to accomplish nothing of extrinsic value and to simply enjoy a day.
Let me share how I have benefited from “taking a break”.
Clarity of thought
When I have too much going on, or am in a consistent routine, my thinking goes on autopilot. That might sound great on the surface… no need to think… just “do”. But having room to think often gives me a different perspective. My inner “type A” at times drives me to make commitment upon commitment. But when I give myself room to think, I have time to sort out what is really important – to me, to my family, to my clients – versus what just seemed like a good idea months ago, or something that I added to my plate just because the over-achiever in me found it to be a good challenge, or knew it was something I could do (regardless of whether it was really beneficial). At this stage in my life, I really have nothing to prove, so taking time to assess my excessive commitments can help me find even more time.
Appreciation of others
My dear hubby does so much for me. He is the love of my life. And when I am in my routine (a.k.a. my rut), I can be neglectful of our relationship. When I take a break though, I have room to appreciate. I see the big things he does, like completely renovating our home. More importantly I experience the little things with him in the moment, like watching our cat Walter chase (and catch) his back foot, or watching of our grandchildren’s sporting events, or maybe working on a home project together. Experiencing these things fills my heart with so much joy! Those moments of appreciating Mike, or our grandkids, or the countless others who touch my life, are better and more empowering for me than any Key West sunset!
“There’s no place like home…”
Famous words of Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz". These words ring so true for me. When we’re away on vacation, although I enjoy myself, I am always very happy to return home. While “home” for me represents our residence, it has a larger connotation here too. “Home” is also my work, my studio, my clients. When I am away from my routine, I miss it! Ok, this might seem like I am going in circles. I need a break from my routine… but when I’m away from my routine I want to get back. Crazy? Not really. Like with so many things, the contrast helps us to learn, expand, improve, and appreciate. By stepping out of my routine, I have room to observe it, with some level of objectivity, which helps me to make choices that serve me better. And then when I step back into it, there is a higher level of satisfaction or a stronger sense of focus and purpose.
How about you? Have you taken a break lately? If so, how did it benefit you?
What’s your favorite way to take a break?
I invite you to sign in and share your thoughts!