Why we all need a long break
Recently, I took a long break from work. I was about to change jobs and I got the option to either start immediately after I finished work at my previous firm, or take more than a month off in between. After careful consideration and a few debates with my wife and family, I decided to opt in for the latter. Looking back, I couldn’t have made a better choice.
You’re probably thinking that it’s a no brainer, and that I shouldn’t even have questioned an alternative, but hear me out. My argument against that decision was twofold. For one, I wouldn’t get paid for a month. Living on rent in a relatively expensive city meant that I had to take a big dent in my savings. My second argument was best captured in a form of a question.
WTF am I going to do for more than a month?
I like working and keeping busy. I’m one of those that need to have a goal set each day before they make their way out of bed. Don’t get me wrong, I love going on vacation and switching off, but that’s good for a couple of weeks. Any longer that that and I get bored, irritated, wanting to go back to work so I can feel productive again.
Nevertheless, I decided to take this more-than-a-month-and-a-half vacation and see how things go. At that point, I was really excited about my time off. Soon enough, the first two weeks went by and I ended up where I thought I would. I’m not going to cover that period in this post, as I already captured it in a previous one. Heck, I even made a film about it.
Having so much time in my hands without someone giving me deadlines or throwing big problems to solve on my desk, I needed to set my own challenges. Looking back now, those weeks proved to be some of my most productive ones in a very long time. I was given the gift of time to further explore my passions and learn new things. I invested a lot of time learning cinematography, building narratives, capturing still moments with my camera and editing them to tell unique stories - with or without words.
Think, explore, act, repeat
I got out in the middle of the day in an effort to explore how life unfolds on a weekday outside the four walls of an office, for the first time in 12 years. I spent quality time with people I love over long lunches, a luxury I couldn’t afford while working, and I improved my cooking skills creating my wife’s favourite recipes for dinner. I read books to expand my horizons and feed my imagination. I spent time studying about industries I wasn’t familiar with, learning about new technologies and ecosystems. I even rediscovered my passion for writing and ended up rebuilding my website and blog from the ground up.
The result? I finally looked peaceful, calmer and happier. My wife’s words, not mine. That alone is a massive win!
Where I’m getting at, is that the gift of time, that same gift I was reluctant to receive at first, provided me with the space I needed to think and recalibrate myself. That long break helped me focus on the things that make me feel passionate about and happy. I don’t feel drained any more, nor am I dreading the 7am alarm clock letting me know it’s once again time for work. I feel a lot more energetic, creative, relaxed and focused, and this has a direct effect on my work now that I’ve been back a few weeks.
I wasn’t sure I needed that long of a break. But I did. We all do from time to time. Taking a step back to relax, think, explore and work on things that you feel passionate about, is that energy booster we all seek but never find the time for in our busy schedules. And who knows, some might even discover an entirely new life for themselves.
Before I leave you, I just wanted to ask. Have you ever taken, or thought about taking, a long break between jobs? What did it mean for you, and were you able to discover things about yourself you didn’t even know existed? I’d love to hear your story and thoughts in the comments below.
Till next time…
Check out my films here.