I took a break and here's how it went.
When was the last time you took a break? What did it look like for you? It must look a little different on everybody. For me, it was about giving myself the time and space to create a lifestyle I cultivated, not one I was often shoved around by.
Earlier this year, I took a 3 month break from work with almost an ironic number of things I wanted to achieve: to have lost the 10kg, to have written a draft manuscript, to have revamped our family finances, and the list goes on. It was no wonder I had a nagging uncertainty of whether I'd emerge 'refreshed'.
About a month in, it wasn't going well. The best I could muster was to be thankful that I could be there for my son who kept falling sick from having started playschool. I'd not been able to do anything material for myself.
One evening, I picked up a Christmas gift: Atomic Habits by James Clear. As I read it, I decided to let it change the course of my break. The well-structured advice on how to create (or break) habits was relevant and easy to apply, but the meaningful impact for me was how it shifted my paradigm of wanting to have achieved X by the end of the break, to having established good habits that would lead to X or more eventually.
The primary shift was in how little it took to draw satisfaction from how I spent my time. For example, I didn’t have to lose 10kg, but had to be at the gym and prioritized eating well (this takes time and planning!). I didn’t have to finish writing a book but I did enact strategies to swap out binge watching Netflix, to writing out short paragraphs like this one. There were also menial habits (like wearing aligners at night). Then there were 'habits of the mind', i.e. noticing the start of a familiar emotional spiral and being able to change it. It was one of those experiences where what I knew only as an intellectual exercise became a part of my life, and I was better for it.
Resilience is a theme nowadays because of the pandemic: resilient self at home, resilient revenue at work. What I most appreciate about this new awareness around 'habits' is that habits are inherently resilient (unfortunately, it also applies to negative habits).
During this time, as the whole world seems to be in a bit of a lull, I'm thinking about how to further incubate the habits that I really want to keep for the rest of my life, and how to kick the ones I'm not so keen to live with. Instead of counting how many countries we've travelled to, people we've met, and deals we've closed, perhaps this could be the measure of how meaningfully we spent these months.
First posted on Instagram in June 2021