In Between Times

I’m in between two vacations.  A week-long California car trip and two weeks in Rome.  Excessive, I know, exceptred-chair-1239781 we really haven’t had a vacation in a very long time.  And while Rome is vacation for me, it is not for my husband.  But I digress.  It was mind-set, or perhaps lack of, that I wanted to write about.

Let me say right up front, I love my work.  And, frankly, I also love to work.  I’m not as good with leisure time.  Relaxation is not my strong suit.  It seems odd that, in between two trips, I’m finding it hard to settle down and, well, work.

It’s actually not that surprising.  Lazy habits are easy, even when they don’t feel good. That’s why it is important to have routines that help you to do the things you need to do.  It’s easier, for example, to be a couch potato than to get to the gym…until getting to the gym becomes an important part of your day.

When I started working from home 10 years ago, I worried that I would end up doing everything but work.  For months, when I wasn’t out at meetings or working with the very few clients I had, I forced myself to be at my computer doing something work-like during typical work hours.

As my business grew and more of my work ended up in the evenings or on the weekends, I allowed myself more freedom of movement.  But I still have a fairly steady work routine.  It gives me structure, comfort, and most important, productivity.

I’m trying to look at this break as a good thing.  Routines can become quagmires.  Too many nonprofits get into the “that’s the way we do things,” and refuse to look up and see if there is a better way.

Change, of course, takes effort.  It can also take bravery.  New things can be scary, but they can also be empowering.  And change doesn’t mean you have to change everything.

Recently, I was feeling that my workout routines were stagnant.  I tried a bunch of new exercises, but didn’t actually LIKE any of them.  Then I started working with a trainer who said, “Let’s not actually change what you do as much as changing how you do them.”  Instead of using a bench, she put me on the BOSU ball, and while we were at it, she made some minor corrections to my form.

The result has been, ok painful.  Really.  But also exhilarating.  And then she said, “For the next few weeks, focus completely on the exercises. Do your reps more slowly and deliberately, and no listening to your iPod.”  Whew!

As I settled in, I started realizing that I was paying more attention to other things beside my exercises.  And I started seeing and hearing things that I have blocked or ignored.  Which made my first vacation so much more relaxing and interesting.  And what work I have been doing has been more thoughtful.

Too many consultants live and die by “the book;”  the way they approach every single client for everything they do.  While I’ve always taken pride in NOT doing that, things do become routine, and routine does become comfortable.  And comfortable becomes the place we want to be.

Before I left on my first vacation, I had been working on a plan for a client.  It was a good plan, but it was not exceptional.  When I returned, I looked at it with new eyes.  Most of what I was suggesting still felt right, but there were a few things that I thought, Yes, it would be better this way.

I am looking forward to my next vacation.  And then to getting back to work with renewed excitement and some new ideas, new slants on old ones, and the energy that comes from getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things.

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