How I Took a One Month Vacation Right at my Own Home
Just because I can. And you can too, here’s how…
Christian Dianne Oro
I would not really consider myself to be a “workaholic”. Probably just a little too over-worked at times. And knowing that I think I just took the best, the boldest choice this year to just take a one month vacation off. To be honest, it's still ongoing, but I reached the full month of this lifestyle at the end of September.
It has been a blast.
Okay, I might sound overselling the idea too much and so before we delve into how I made that happen and how it works, let’s actually define the vacation that I’m talking about first.
So to be clear, I am not talking about “vacation” here as in an escape or a getaway or full-on not doing anything. Imagine not doing anything for a month, that will probably drive you insane too. It’s not Netflix for hours or flying to another city or country (which is of course ideal but is a little too difficult to do during a pandemic).
What I meant by it is to just drastically cut my work hours, reduce work-related stress, and reclaiming the free hours from work back into something that you would do on a vacation.
Essentially, it’s a lifestyle that is designed to be more forgiving and relaxed. I do not forget about work altogether, but I try to focus on it for about 3–4 hours max to get everything done and have the rest of the day off for myself, my friends and family, or a hobby.
Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from. — Seth Godin
Stop battling burnout
They say when you start working for yourself, it is no longer an 8-hour shift. It’s true. Being a business owner is not a ticket to an easy life because the truth is, we all spend way more than 8 hours if we’re working on our own stuff.
There is a heightened sense of responsibility, and we all want to make our freelancing career or business work out of the drive for success, making money, dedication in the name of art, or simply fear of failing. Whatever your reasons are, it's easy to fall into the trap of making our personal lives as a business and our business like our personal lives. I thought it’s a good thing too once upon a time, and I agree that it has its own perks. But not anymore.
When I started working for myself as a freelancer, the typical workday has doubled and most of the time, spending even more time on the computer. Add the pandemic to the situation, and it has been easier to get lost and blur the lines between work and personal life. I have the mindset that since I’m stuck at home anyway, I might as well work on something and be productive.
It’s so weird, but I made work to become an escape in itself. I work to fight the boredom, I work to mask the fact that quarantine sucks the life out of me, I work to forget my reality.
And after 8 months of continuous grind for 2020, I just decided it's time to take more ownership of my time and how I actually spend it.
I say, enough. I can not let this pandemic dictate what I can and can not do anymore. It’s time to not go along with the flow. It’s time to not make work my escape and do something outside of it.
Before I took this decision, I feel like drowning with so much work and constantly in catch-up mode. Like days are not enough and I feel like I'm just sleeping just to recharge and work the next day again. It has been a constant battle to finish tasks, fighting burnout, and seasons of re-sparking creativity. It sucks.
So I decided to just stop doing these things. And if I need to get different results, some things have to change. I need to be able to be consistent.
”The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” — Lao Tzu
Creating a reward system
So what do you really want to do? Or missed doing? Watching TV? Reading books? Driving around? Visit friends and family?
I thought it’s time to incorporate activities back into my daily life. Because seriously, I used to be so absent. It feels like I am physically present with the people around me but there was a point where I think I am actually too unavailable.
I thought I could be doing more things with my time than, I don’t know, washing dishes?
There is nothing wrong with placing importance on time, it is after all a very important resource. But work does not necessarily mean it's important or above everything else.
Humans are not machines, there are many aspects of life that needs to be cultivated. It’s difficult now, with the pandemic where our actions are limited, but I think it is high time to adjust and stop wishing that it will go away and we can return to normal. Until then, we must work with what we have and start designing a life and a lifestyle that fosters our growth holistically.
Life doesn't stop. It continues, and so do we. The pass for not doing anything because it’s pandemic time is over. I’m not saying just go out and expose yourself to the outside world carelessly but its more of in each day, why not do something to reward yourself with?
Identify -what could be that one thing that could potentially make your day from 20 to 90? Or 100? This framing personally leaves me inspired to finish work in less time so that I could have then “play” time.
And you have to define “play” too. What you consider play is totally up to you. It can still be on your computer, but the difference is you actively treat that time as not work.
If you are a freelancer and you are not actively designing your life, you are not taking this model at its fullest potential. I realized it the hard way. If you don’t actively choose who you are working for, and what you are working on, you are missing out on what it has to offer.
One, you can actually choose your clients. I know, that sounds so obvious, but just think of it for a minute. You can actually STOP working for clients that don’t suit the lifestyle that you want to design. Do you want to work for 4 hours a day? Guess what, you can choose clients that will allow you to do this. Scrap those who take so much time from you.
But I’m not too naive. Sometimes, it’s just hard to let go when a certain client just pays too well. But if working for this client leaves you burnout, is the money really worth it? Are you happy with it? If you are, no problem here but the point is, if it’s just money that is holding you back, then you might want to rethink your choices. Well since I’m sharing here- I used to be so afraid too. But here’s the thing, when you lose a client, or you stop working for a client, it actually frees your time up for things that you actually want to do.
It's not a lost opportunity. It’s a portal to another, better opportunity.
Freelancing allows you to select your client. Simmer and really take advantage of that fact, I know I did and it saved me hours of time. Not money, time! Money can be found but time, you cannot really get back.
Be kinder… To Self
We are always taught to be kind to others but not to ourselves. I don’t know if you think this way too but I really think we are living in a world where there is too much emphasis on “productivity” and efficiency. We all know anything in excess is not good.
You go to Twitter and YouTube and the amount of content for hacks and tips for productivity is overwhelming. It seems like all of these people want is for your “growth”. So much so that sometimes, it’s borderline, its-your-fault-your-not-successful. Well, it’s all good when you are left “motivated” after you watch these videos or read these types of content, but chances are, some of us are just left wondering what we are doing with our lives, why we are slothing away, or how we are just not productive enough.
So I say, be kind to yourself. You are enough. I am enough. What you did for today is enough. It is not lowering your bar. Do the best quality of work still, but can we please stop conditioning ourselves as if we’re not enough. You didn’t finish? It’s okay. There’s tomorrow.
There is so much condemnation nowadays for procrastination and I think it’s a little bit much. What we need in this fast-paced society is to slow down. We should know when to dial it down. I know it sounds like a complete cliche but it’s the truth.
Take a vacation at your own home by making a routine that is forgiving and allows your creativity to spark through. You will be surprised at what this world considers “slacking” could do.
I took a one month vacation and I love it. I think whether or not we are a freelancer, we can still design a lifestyle that we don’t need to escape from. Make lemonades out of lemons.
Start designing your lifestyle. Decide to take that vacation…Right at your own home. Make space. Clear and unpack your baggage. What and who is taking your time?
Let go of the fear of making drastic changes, choose freedom, and take ownership of your time.
Christian Dianne Oro
I’m a mechanical engineer turned writer. Connect with me at engineerpositivity.com or let’s chat at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!