Wednesday last week was the first time I officially shut down my office.
We had booked a 5-day holiday to southern Portugal where I was desperately seeking to disconnect, unwind, and relax.
But I also had on my mind to check email once or twice a day; publish my blog post on the regularly scheduled Thursday; and post photos on Instagram.
Well, my mind changed after a discussion with colleagues at the coworking space.
Every Monday, Andy Hix from Zen at Work hosts a mindfulness session, and last Monday’s topic was on disconnecting to relax on holiday. With my pending vacation in 2 days, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Andy shared the story of one of his clients who recently went on a week-long holiday.
She checked her email twice a day and even attended two conference calls.
Nine mouths around the table gaped open at this last statement.
But it’s not that far off from what I was planning to do.
So I took up the challenge to disconnect from email and social media for my entire trip.
My blog post went up Tuesday. I notified my clients that I would be offline. And the autoresponder went on Tuesday at 7pm.
I also encouraged my partner to do the same so that we could hold each other accountable. (He did check his email Wednesday and responded to a few text messages, but otherwise was offline.)
When we landed back in London Sunday evening, I wasn’t even bothered to switch off airplane mode.
The yearning to immediately check my email or open up an app was just a passing thought.
Instead, I was focused on the present moment. I noticed the people around me – my husband and my daughter who I love being around; the fellow passengers on our airplane who had all just been to another incredible part of the world; and the crew who had safely returned us home.
I had switched off deep-seeded anticipations.
I let go of the expectation of an angry email, or an offer to join an irresistible course, or the desire to post a photo just to keep up with friends. Sure, I was aware that I could act on those impulses.
But I chose not to.
See, we are faced with choices everyday.
Thoughts, emotions, experiences, interactions will always exist. Our choice is in how we let each affect us. Is it something we let pass by? Or something to dwell on?
Michael Singer in The Untethered Soul describes it best:
At each stage of your life you have seen different thoughts, emotions, and objects pass before you. But you have always been the conscious receiver of all that was. Now you are in your center of consciousness. You are behind everything, just watching. That is your true home.
This is why we take vacations, holidays, breaks, and need to go offline: they provide the space to take a step back from what we’re wrapped up in and return to our seat of consciousness.
This is also what I work on with people seeking to chart their own paths in the world.
Taking a step back from the everyday to reflect, think, plan, and discover new possibilities for your career is what I love helping people do.
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