As The Rockette, The Pebble, and myself traveled down to the New Jersey shore for a weekend of camping at the Frontier Campground, I was thinking about a few articles I had planned. I didn’t bring the laptop, but I was all set to outline a few articles. I made an off-hand comment to my wife about how I haven’t been able to get to anything done on my ‘in between MBA classes to-do list”. At Drexel University I get about a 1.5 – 2 weeks off in between quarters. Since two classes takes about 9-15 hours a week for classes, assignments, and reading, there are a lot of tasks that get prioritized out. Class starts again tomorrow(only 6 classes left), and I haven’t been able to get anything off of my list. To that, my wife replied with this gem, “sometimes you just need a break”.
Simple, direct, and to the point. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in plugging away and just dealing, that I needed my wife to remind me that I could give myself permission to take a break. Without that little exchange, I would have potentially ruined a beautiful weekend by carrying my to-do list baggage around. From that point on, I decided to leave ‘life’ at home, and enjoy the moment of the vacation. The simplicity of tent camping provided a nice get away. Without the to-do list encroaching on my personal space I was able to find space for reflection. Here are a few take away insights :
Take a Break – For those of us who put constant pressure on ourselves to perform and grow, take some time to refresh yourself. Even though it is tough to pull ourselves away, it is important. We can even hinder our growth and performance, because of sub-par energy and our to-do list baggage.
Give Yourself Credit – I am constantly looking forward, so much so that I don’t take the time to look back. I was able to find some time to reflect over the weekend. These past two years have been amazing. New father, amazing son, nearing the end of an MBA, finished getting out of 70k in debt, changed my energy and productivity habits, and gave some tangible shape to my life’s dream. That kind of perspective can’t be beat. Seeing what the last two years has brought, I am even more energized for the future.
This is part of the reason the Dave Ramsey method works well. The baby steps method provides built in moments to reflect and see how far you have come. Each time a debt get crossed off, we are forced to deal with the positive changes. The process happens more often in the early stages of debt reduction, which is generally the time we need the most encouragement. This reflection gives us passion for the future and our bigger debts.
Reevaluate – Take some time to think about your routine and your tasks…how does it align with your goals? Often stepping back to view your life from a distance, can help see new areas for improvement. Being stuck in the trenches allows only a limited view of the landscape. For example, people trying to get out of debt often get focused on small value tasks like selling clutter on eBay, when they need to focus on dumping the 20,000$ car or changing jobs for more income.
Plan Some Space For Reflection – The time was so needed and useful, that I need to consciously plan space for reflection on a regular basis. The idea of taking a few hours alone once a month with the sole purpose of reflection will be a good place to start. A reflection day.