Distributed to #Self #Productivity
My Vacation And The Paradox of Doing Nothing
Sometimes doing nothing is exactly what we need
“What did you do on your vacation?
This is the famous icebreaker-back-to-everyday-office-question, but which, every year, is always very well prepared on my side, “highlights” and a “long-narrative-with-so-much-details-one-would-say-you-were-there ”, which I distribute according to my relationship with the person asking me the question.
For the first time in probably forever, this year I was able to answer “nothing”. One version. One-size-fits-all. I didn’t “do anything” on my vacation and it made me realize a lot about myself.
First, the need for performance takes up too much space in my life. It’s probably just a question of conditioning, from the long years of studying to always having to achieve a pre-established goal that pushes the stress from session to session so doing nothing for a long time made me anxious.
While I don’t have to worry about “doing nothing” on the beach for a week, so why was it so different to do nothing at home? For the first time in a long time, I was left on my own, with no plan or destination.
It’s the kind of thing that happens on a weekend from time to time, but 14 days stuck together with my girlfriend. I felt bad for doing nothing. Worse yet, I felt like I was wasting my girlfriend’s vacation time (who, however, was also very keen on taking it smooth).
A vacation should be first and foremost to relax, to “recharge our batteries”. It doesn’t matter what form it should take. Feeling guilty for taking time for yourself should not be allowed.
My second big realization is that I am not listening enough to my body in everyday life. I burn the candle at both ends, as they say. I tend to want to do a heavy day at work, but also want to use my evening to advance personal projects, to the detriment of my sleep or my health.
Since the start of social media apps, I have used my lunch break to chat with people that I love. When I call my mom, before hanging up, she always tells me, “Don’t work too hard there, just enough!” At first, I thought it was funny because I always used to give my 110%. Looking back, I realize that my 100% would usually be good enough.
I checked my work mailbox every day for the first week of my vacation. By reflex, but also to be sure that nothing explodes. During the second week, I reasoned with myself that if there was an emergency, my colleagues will find a way to reach me. I removed my notifications and was finally able to actually put the phone down.
Since my return from vacation, I have not reactivated the notifications associated with work for a lot of my devices and I put a maximum of overtime per evening for my personnel projects. I can’t always do it, everyday life has its requirements, but I still feel that it had a very positive impact on my evenings, where my attention is focused in the present moment and not on my agenda for the next day like I used to.
Finally, my last enlightenment is that even when it feels like “nothing”, you do a lot of things with it. I spent a big two weeks mainly at home. We did a lot of odd jobs in the condo, took the time to plan bigger changes, but above all, we saw the people we love, we slept glued in the comfort of having no rush about anything and we made a collection of beautiful indescribable moments, but which tickle the interior when we think back.
A few weeks before the holidays, I had made a list of all the projects, big and small, that we wanted to do in the near future. We ticked off almost a third of what is there, but it didn’t seem like tasks to us, because we were doing it to vary our activities and it was only an option, not an obligation.
In short, it’s okay to do nothing. It’s okay not to plan everything and it’s also okay to let yourself go with the flow.