I missed posting yesterday. Not in the sense that I fondly remembered it upon its leaving, but rather, I completely forgot it was my turn to post and didn’t realize it until very, very late. I’d like to say I spent the time deep in thought, pondering weighty topics to be discussed in this post, but in reality, I spent the time tracking down and buying a car. The point of this post is not to recount the analysis and selection process, not to opine on the nature of haggling and deal-making. Rather, the purpose is to point out something that we run into pretty frequently, and that is how we many times go through our days on autopilot, functioning, but not necessarily living.
Days like today, truthfully could have been any one of a thousand days where I got up, had my coffee and started to check off my list. I had calls to make, a couple of meetings to dial into, a couple of presentations to work on, a paper to draft, emails to respond to, etc. I dutifully got out my to do list and started checking things off one by one. The next thing I knew, it was noon and my only real notable accomplishment was the consumption of 4 cups of coffee and remembering to mute my phone on the conference calls. I am a big fan of routine and patterns, but I realized that I was missing a lot of interesting things by shifting into autopilot, and as I started to review what all had actually happened, I discovered that I was missing quite a bit.
I think that happens much more frequently than we all think. We get so “head down” in our lists, projects, and activities that we fail to notice the things around us that can improve our mindset and lives if we let them. For example, opening the blinds of the office provided me with a beautiful view and bright environment, which immediately improved my mood and energy level. Likewise, an email from a former work colleague announcing the birth of his first grandchild took my mind from the frustrations of the strategy meeting I was in to fond remembrances of my grandchildren and happiness for his joy.
It is certainly important to work hard, complete tasks and focus, however, it is just as important to balance the work with the act of living and enjoying life. We used to have mandated break times throughout the day, when I first joined the work force, but we have rapidly become a country where we have working lunches and no real breaks. We start early and stay late and we wonder why we burn out. Breaks are important because these little moments throughout the day are like stolen vacations, which bring with them peace and perspective, which we tend to ignore in our rush to check off the to do’s on the list. So, as you make your way through your workday tomorrow, stop every couple of hours and take a break. Look outside, walk around, or just let your mind wander. It’ll do a world of good…just be sure to come back!