Forced to Rest

I should have been on a snowshoe tour right now. That’s what I would have been doing if everything had gone to plan. To my consternation, however, the Coronavirus caused most of my clients for the Winter tour season to cancel, opening up my schedule dramatically and leaving me to wonder what I should do with all my newfound time. So I checked out new snowshoe routes and did administrative work, both of which were necessary but but not urgent and kept getting pushed to the back burner. I would have preferred to be on tour, but perhaps I was handed some time to reflect. I would not have had time to write this post otherwise.

I’ve been told before I don’t know how to rest. To an extent, I think that’s true. I do always like doing something, work or play. I never saw it as a problem though because I know so many people more extreme than me. America and Japan are not exactly known for their work life balance, nor do they score high on societal happiness assessments. I would guess there is some correlation. Americans sacrifice their lives to achieve the American Dream while Japanese give them up for the company;  either way the result are the same. I see in myself the influences of both, the temptation to “always be doing something” instead of taking a moment to breathe or reflect. I want to feel productive, that’s not a bad thing . But if it’s simply checking items off to feel productive it’s meaningless, a mouse spinning on a wheel. It can even be damaging because you don’t take time to reflect on the big picture. There is motion but no movement.

I’m reading a book called “The One Thing” and I’m trying to now narrow the scope of my life. The premise is that most extremely successful people focus on one or two things, excelling and being known for just those. That’s hard for me because I want to do everything. I want to start more businesses and travel everywhere, play professional pickleball, teach camps, grow both of my travel companies, work as a freelance tour guide, organize tourmaments and introduce pickleball to more people (all of which I have been doing concurrently). Doing all those things are great and they might be profitable but are they sustainable long-term? Maybe not. Warren Buffet has a similar exercise where you write down 25 goals, then decide the top 5. Because you can only focus on 5 things at a time, you are not allowed to even think about the other 20 goals until you have accomplished the first 5.

I also like the ideas of the FIRE community (Financial Independence, Retire Early) and watch a lot of videos on the concept. As a minimalist, it appeals to me to live simply now so that when you achieve your financial goals, you don’t have to work if you don’t want to. While I like the idea, I’ve realized that it can turn work into something to trudge through with the light (retirement) at the end of the tunnel (work). I don’t want work to be a burden though, I want it to be fun and fulfilling. I want the financial independence of not having to work, but the desire to continue working because it’s meaningful. And for work to be all those things, I’m realizing I have to do a little bit less. Maybe that’s asking for too much. Or maybe turning 31 has forced me to realize that I’m not superman, I’m getting pretty old after all 😉

All that to say, it’s nice to have some time to reflect. I see the value now of scheduling time for reflection because it can be as important as the time you spend working. I wouldn’t say I’m in the rat race, but I can force myself back in if I constantly work without reflecting. You can’t always align your work with your talents or preferences, but at least you should know why you are working. There is still so much I want to do, I’m realizing it just takes time. As someone else famous said, “we overestimate what we can do in 1 year and underestimate what we can do in 10”. I want to continue doing the things I love for a long time, that’s what real achievement means to me.



3 thoughts on “Forced to Rest

  1. Wonderful reflections. Like you, I’ve tried to span too many things at once, but I feel it’s made for a richer life, personally.
    Thirty-three years ago, I did make one change in my weekly schedule. Rather than wait for full financial independence, in which I hoped to devote myself to my writing, I dedicated one day each week to my literary practice — in effect, “retiring” while still earning a living (and benefits). When I remarried, that was something my wife supported — a matter of maintaining my own sanity in the process.
    These days there are times when I wonder if I should have worked more overtime hours to sock away more in my IRA, but then I look to my novels and poetry and feel a deep sense of satisfaction.
    I think you’re on the right track!

  2. DANIEL … Happy Birthday! Hope the contemplative one is a joyous celebration! I’m reading “Common Rule” by Justin Earley … good, too. Think fondly of days now long gone. If you think 31 is “old” consider I just last weekend hit 70 which seems absolutely unfathomable … until I get up every morning some moaning at the creaking :-)! Blessings!

  3. Hey Daniel,
    I really enjoyed reading your reflections. Congrats on turning 31! I’m 52 and still reflecting on exactly the same things. Wish I’d at least thought about the FIRE concept when I was your age. It’s too easy to get buffeted along by life and lose track of where you thought you wanted to be. But then there are the unexpected joys that life delivers sometimes because you went with the flow. As Tim Minchin says in his “Nine Life Lessons”, you don’t want to miss the shiny things out of the corner of your eye because you were so focussed on The Dream(s). I’m inclined to think you’re already pretty good at spotting the shiny things. 😀

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