As I get home from the school run, I tell myself: ‘I am not going to sit at my desk now’. But, just after I finish my workout, the computer is there staring and It is hard to resist to just go through a few things. As 2 hours have gone by, I extract myself out (again) to run a short errand and, as I re-enter the house, I physically distance myself from the office. Hand brake.
Do I have brakes?
For years I wondered whether “stopping” would be good for me. By stopping I mean interrupting long-term fixed employment. Myself and Hubby B would often joke about it, with him arguing that without full-time employment, I would run even faster. I did not doubt him. At different times In my career, I had the chance or choice to slow down, and it was rare the moment where I have done such a choice. When given the option, I would always take on more.
For a while, I considered that It could be FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but it was more often about the “Joy to be In” (not always, I do occasionally still suffer from FOMO). So when faced with the prospect of finally having a career break and as I started telling people, Hubby B laughed In my face and has a running bet against me that I can not stay still for a year, not even for 6 months. Apparently, many people are taking his side on his bet, so even if for the sake of pride, I am looking for the breaks.
What type of brakes?
In fairness, not all brakes are created equal. Whilst I have stopped my full-time job, and I have continued to do charity work, write on the blog, create the podcast, and look at business angel Investments. That is hardly a full break, especially as I even increased my hours at the charity and took on a new HBS course about Competing in the Age of AI (cool right?). Considering that I have stepped up my driving responsibilities and pick up the kids to take them to activities more often, I have scheduled regular workouts and physio sessions, it is hard to slow down, even less break.
As I write this, I am sitting outside on the terrace – not on the laptop, not in my office and not at night. It is noon and I am trying to concentrate on something I have loved all my life and don’t get to do often – write. I guess there is some sort of break in this?
Why the brakes?
The thing with a break is that it is meant to lead to something else. After all, I am not retiring but rather likely reinventing another phase of my career. And no matter how slow we go, or how relaxed we try to be, the clock is always ticking. It is hard to believe that I have been out for 3 months, and this summer school break no doubt rendered the 3 months a different meaning. The ticking of the clock reminds us this is but a phase.
Plus, there is also some sort of hidden checklist to get a real break. As I hear the clock tick, all the things “I always wanted to do” rush through my head. The list is endless, the speed is maddening. As with any other big task without clear small steps, I procrastinate. Let me go read another email. That will calm my brain. What if I run out of time to do all these things? Can you fail at a career break? Here we go again with failure and success. Where are the brakes for that? Maybe I should not be breaking to ensure I can look back at this year with a great sense of achievement for all I have done. Why does it need to be slow? Do I need indeed a sense of calm for this break to be called a break? Unclear.
Staying on the speed analogy, perhaps there is more to be said about lanes than about speed Itself (or at least speed in isolation). I have been driving this fast car of mine on a multiple-lane highway, trying not to lose any luggage and barely stopping for gas.
As I look forward, I am putting gas on a regular basis, avoiding running the deposit too low or having only short and rushed stops at the gas station. Sometimes, I leave the highway to take a national road, enjoy the views, and find new places. Back on the highway, I avoid sharp turns or driving in the middle of two lanes. I slow down as needed and speed up where It is important, And for now, my GPS has no destination and I try not to define it. At least not yet. I am here for the ride. And the view.
Photo at Quinta da Regaleira