If you think “family”, this post is likely to surprise you. If you think “rest”, then think again. Don’t get me wrong, these two are up there among the top best reasons why I don’t work on weekends. After all, it is during the weekends that my family gets the best of my attention. And I really feel physically regenerated after a proper weekend’s rest when my HP (to use gaming jargon) is replenished to the extent that I am able to face another week. But if family and rest are not the number one reason to avoid working on weekends, what then?
French polymath Blaise Pascal once made a startling statement:
All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.
I firmly believe the single most important reason not to work on weekends is YOUR SELF (sic!). Granted, that sounds awfully selfish, but please bear with me. Whenever I find myself in a messy situation, whether professionally or personally, chances are I haven’t taken time to zoom out on my life, in order to assess where I’m coming from and where I’m heading. Everyday I zoom in on the individual details of everyday life, but if I lack the discipline of zooming out regularly, things tend to fall apart. Do you see what I mean?
For about 10 years now, I’ve learned to put aside time for introspection, and for the most part the initiative proved to be a life-saver. On Saturdays, I usually spend more quality time with my family, but Sunday is my ‘Zoomsday’. This is when I traditionally take a long look at the big picture and ask myself some difficult questions such as: Do I like where my personal life is heading? Do I like where my spiritual life is heading? Is my professional life on the right track?
On Zoomsday I prevent doomsday, so to speak. Now, I’m aware that this may sound completely alien to some people. Although I’m not much of a life-coach, experience has thought me that many disastrous decisions we make as professionals, as spouses, as parents, and ultimately as people, could be for the most part avoided if we took time alone to reflect on the important things in our lives, and so reestablish a healthy balance.
As a Christian, I was fortunate to be taught this principle of introspection early in life, in the context of prayer. Ever since I made the decision to allocate time to myself as part of my relationship with God, this has been by far the most important source of energy and balance for everything I do. I can easily tell by comparing good times against bad times. But let’s get back to Pascal.
ZOOMING OUT 101
Sit in a quiet room alone, you say? How is it done anyway? Do I just stare at the walls, or maybe hide in a cave? Here’s a few really brief tips to help you get started, if this is something new to you:
- Determine a location: your place of retreat should be distraction-free, no phone (other than for urgent communication), no tablet, no PC etc. For this kind of “weekly retreats” a quiet space at home would be convenient for most of us. This year I started experimenting with 24-hours countryside retreats every few months, and I have found good reasons to want to continue. Very refreshing!
- Keep a journal: like many others I’ve found the journal to be an essential tool to support a form of organized reflection. It’s no rocket science, really.
- Have a MASTER PLAN for your life to outline your main personal, professional, spiritual etc goals (start reading more here)
- Spend at least 2 hours at a time alone – it takes time to get in the mood.
What Pascal basically said is that, if you are neglecting your inner universe, that will reflect in your everyday life. Professionally you might find out that you are less effective because you lack a road-map to help you get some place big, personally you might discover it’s been a long time since you had a significant discussion with the important people in your life, spiritually – if this is of concern to you – you might discover flagrant incongruities between your declared values and their intersection with your life as it is. So make your call soon and start enjoying the benefits of alone-time.
Have you already found Pascal’s conclusion to be true? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to drop a comment.