Wow, the year has sprinted out the gate. The winter holidays already seem like a long time ago, especially when it’s so sunny and mild here in Marin County. Still, I keep thinking about some realizations I had while digging out from the massive storms in the Sierra Nevada in January. I was on a snowy vacation, and I didn’t turn on my computer for seven days straight. (I hope you enjoyed some version of that yourself. After another tough year, we all deserve to unplug and recharge in whatever way feels right to us.)
The truth is, I’m not always so intentional about disconnecting when I’m away on an adventure, whether by myself, with friends, or with my husband. I’m as guilty as the next person of convincing myself that if I step away from my work, some sort of crisis will ensue. How will my clients possibly manage without me? The world (or, at least, my small part of it) will fall apart if I don’t respond right away to emails and texts, right?
I know this thinking is deeply flawed, but that doesn’t make it easy to let go of. We get caught up in the myth of our own importance. And our tendency to say no to vacations, new experiences, or unexpected opportunities seems to get more pronounced as we settle deeper into our careers.
There was a time when I’d shake things up with hardly a second thought. When I graduated from college, my friends headed off to jobs that seemed like sure steps down a career path. I went to Europe for eight months. At another juncture, I quit a job, jumped on my bike, and spent three months riding across the country. During that adventure, people could leave me messages by calling a free 800 number (weird but true). One day, I stopped at a phone booth somewhere in the middle of Iowa and dialed my answering machine. The number had been disconnected. All of a sudden, I was cut off — quite literally — from the person I’d been before I started pedaling 70+ miles a day.
The question then was, if I was no longer that Candra, who was I? I spent the rest of the trip meditating on this conundrum. Without any of the titles, roles, responsibilities, or definitions of my earlier life, who the heck was I? The answer, when it eventually emerged, sounded a lot like the founder of Live Bright Now.
Have you ever paused to take stock of who you are without the influence of workplace dynamics or imposed definitions and titles — director, stay-at-home mom, employee of the month, you name it? Try it! Imagine (or practice) having the courage to say yes to invitations and risks. Visualize your vast potential. Reconsider your role in a world where your contributions matter, but they aren’t the be-all, end-all. It’s freeing.
Back to my musings as I shoveled snow. Disconnecting for a week while in a winter wonderland reminded me that while I take enormous pride (and get enormous pleasure) from doing good work that people value, the world keeps spinning when I take a break. Your world will, too.
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