I listen to a lot of podcasts, and stumbled on this one the other day, which I found fitting for this time of year. In it, podcast host Tim Ferriss and Jerry Colonna (CEO of Reboot.io) spend a good amount of time talking about a two-month sabbatical Jerry takes every year, and more broadly about the value of rest and what good rest looks like for them. I personally find the idea simultaneously attractive and challenging, which isn’t in itself a revelation: I’ve found ways to work through every break I have ever taken. The three major breaks I have had in my adult life bear evidence of this: I wrote freelance, applied for jobs, prepared for teaching, helped organise two international workshops and carried on supervising students. I even sometimes attended meetings (which, as I write this, makes me want to shake myself for my silliness). So I am simultaneously envious of Jerry’s freedom in setting up a business that enables this period of rest and nervous about the boundaries I would have to place to achieve something similar. After all, academia never seems to let up; there are always deadlines and feedback needed and fires to put out, and one’s “devotion” is proven by an almost monastic attention to the work.
But even as I write this, I have to wonder why this is. On some level, it’s absurd, written out in black and white. I hear a part of me saying no one dies if I don’t show up. And it’s true. No one dies if I don’t publish another word.
Not showing up is in conflict with my values, though. If I say I will do something I want to do my best to do it, to keep my word, and to do it well, because that’s a value, too. Ultimately I’m poor at figuring out how long a good job takes (and saying no, a constant struggle).
And here I am talking myself out of taking time for myself.
Even writing “taking time for myself” feels selfish, but I have to ask myself why. Is it really that selfish to want some time to take care of my body, mind, and heart in a way that I don’t normally make a point of doing? What am I missing out on that might help me when work returns to its usual deluge? That might make me a better parent, colleague, and friend? What might happen if I put myself first for a little while?
I think I’ll try an experiment this summer. When the kids are in care, I’ll still do some work (because deadlines), but I’ll change the priority order. Rest, exercise, eat well, meditate, and THEN work on the things that seem most valuable to me. Not to others.
Perhaps by writing this intention here, I’ll stick to it. One can only hope, right? I’ll let you know how it goes.
Feature photo by Matteo Badini on Pexels.