The Human Element

Turns out there is something to this whole unplugging and recharging business.

As long as I have known myself, I’ve been someone who goes and goes and goes until I slam into a wall. Despite repeated attempts at becoming someone who learns to call it the end of the work day or reduce the number of endeavors I’m working on, I somehow always find a way to unwind that work.

Calling it out. I have an unhealthy mental connection between hours worked and self-value. My brain, just like every other human’s brain, needs time to unplug and recharge in order to be my best self at anything that I do. Plus I have piles of personal, real-life, empirical data to prove to myself that what I can get done in 6 hours after a nice period of recharging is more than most can get done in a week. If I take a full weekend, I can have more done on Monday by noon than most working 60+ hours.

I don’t think that’s bragging, because a.) I don’t think that’s out of the norm. I think the majority of us need to chill-out and take a breather on consistent basis. b.) I’ve seen it to be true… and yet, I continue to short-change myself.

I thought on this as I walked to the beautiful Sarah P. Duke Gardens this morning with my 12 year old dog. Living in near a botanical garden is one hell of a perk in life, as is having an older dog who has more energy than dogs half his age. I was grateful for the time to take the walk, created by this thing I’ve been doing called a ‘weekend.’ My mind kept going to my dog who was able to make the 3+ mile round trip trek without even so much as requesting a break. In fact, he was grumpy I took a quiet moment of contemplation. He had places to see after all.

How does he stay so healthy and active? I’m guessing it has a lot to do with the expensive dog food I buy him that has more fruits and vegetables in it than the average American consumes. After 10 years in the nutrition field and spending nothing short of small fortune on this food you will never convince me otherwise.

I also think the other key to his vim and vigor is that if he’s not in go mode, he’s sleeping. He does in fact have an off switch. Additionally, and let me preface this by saying I’m legit not being sarcastic here, he meditates daily. Every morning and afternoon he takes 10 to 30 minutes to stare off into the distance. He is looking at nothing and everything at the same time. He has always done this.

For me this weekend business came a bit early. Despite being thrown off by horrendous world news and the following apathy that ensued, I had finished up all my work for the week on Thursday. I had plenty of projects that I could get caught up on or even get ahead on — I always have projects — but I could feel that taking pausing was in my best interest.

I cleaned my home. Went to the grocery store and actually got a full batch of groceries rather than the couple of items here-and-there method I had been rocking for the last few months. I did some organizational work on a book project of mine, the type of thing that gnaws away at you and you continue to put it off day after day.

But what I didn’t do was anything that was billable. For me that’s huge. Furthermore, I didn’t feel bad about it. That’s nothing short of a miracle.

I even took a break from putting a new blog up on Medium, something I had done for 38 straight days. First I had done a mental health blog every day of the month of May and I followed it right up with this series on changing my internal dialogue to one of success.

Was a break in the chain equal to failure?

No. The world kept turning and my determination to see myself as a success continues. I’m eager to see that self-view reflected back at me… and in my bank account. I’ll report back when I’ve hit my financial goals to let y’all know if they’re as big of a deal as I have made them out to be for years and years.

As someone who believes the Universe is always sending us lessons to work on, repeated until the lesson is learned, I found a lesson in all this. I’m open to working on it and learning. As I sat in a brief moment of contemplation on a stone bench in a beautiful botanical garden on bright sunny day, it came to me. While others see me as extraordinarily organized, I see myself as constantly needed to work on an organizational project. The inside and outside don’t match.

In this endeavor to change my internal narrative, I know it’s important to give myself a win. Organization it is. I do have a lot of things to organization, for example the background work to one of the books I’m working on. No one else is going to do it, it’s vital for the project’s success and I feel awesome each bit of it I get done. And yet, it gets continually put off. Same for this one last box of miscellaneous left over from my last move. It’s sitting here right next to me demanding to be addressed.

Had I not taken the time to put work done, put the phone away and have a seat. None of this would have come to the forefront. I would have continued to spin my wheels and never saw the forward progress, let alone growth in my bank account.

Excel and some time with my paper shredder seem to be the next rungs in the ladder to my personal success, after the weekend is over of course.