Stop and Smell the Roses

When we’re conducting the business of just getting along in life, it’s easy to take the time to stop and smell the roses. Of course, it’s not just the roses, it’s all the things in life we take for granted. If you want to maximize the life you’re living, you can achieve so much more joy and satisfaction by savoring all the nuances that add the flavor to each day well lived.

Everyone has the same 86,400 seconds each day, how are you going to use yours. By paying attention to those subtle details, you can get so much more out of each minute of every day.

Technology has presented us with ample distraction as an effective way to keep our attention engaged, which keeps you from getting bored, but potentially at the expense of loss of quality of life, at least in the romantic sense of it.

Tablets, iPods, cell phones, television, streaming media, radio, iTunes, NetFlix, YouTube, computers, video games, signage, all clamoring for your attention, it’s nearly impossible to have a spare moment, when something is not trying to grasp your attention.

You’re lucky if you have the ability to unplug, sit down to enjoy a family meal without television, phones or other devices, or any of the other simple pleasures in life, such as taking a walk, or just sitting and enjoying a face-to-face talk, without the presence of devices.

Not to sound paranoid, but recently, I was having a face-to-face discussion with someone who mentioned a restaurant I’d never heard of. Later, when I picked up my phone, a pop-up ad for that restaurant showed up. Coincidence? I don’t know, just saying… ‘ere, I digress.

If you really want to get all that you can out of this life, you need to make room in your life, in your day, in the precious moments of this life, to allow life to emerge before you. Make or find moments where you can sit in silent repose, to reflect about yourself, what you want out of life. Think about the things that make you happy and the activities which bring you joy.

Maybe it’s time to put yourself back in the drivers’ seat of your life, and not let media, commercialism, or the powers-that-be control you and your thoughts. Is it time to pay attention to you, your self, your body, your life?

If it is, then start making time for looking after you. Make time to engage in the activities that make you feel good. Schedule your “me time” to do whatever it is that makes you happy. It could be as simple as taking a walk in the park, feeding the ducks, sitting on a park bench, listening to your favorite music, taking a nice soak in the bathtub, or engaging in a particular hobby. Whatever it is that brings you joy, make time for that.

And when your day has come to an end, and slumber is just around the corner, take time to review your day. What did it look like? Did you take out a little time for yourself? Did you get all the things done that you set out to do? Regardless of the answers, love and forgive yourself. It’s a crazy world out there, and we’re all only doing the best we can with what we have. That means, you, too. So lighten up and give yourself a break. Cut yourself some slack and remember that tomorrow is a fresh, new day.

If you’re like the rest of us, you’re juggling a world of potential activities and obligations. You can reduce some of the overwhelm and panic by making a list (which you can use old-school technology, such as paper and a writing instrument, or use your phone or other device that might be handy), and check off things as you do them. Don’t delete them, because there is satisfaction in the doing of it, so mark it as done. And if you don’t get a majority (or any) of the things done, “Oh well,” you did the best you could.

And if there’s something on your list of things to do, that you’d rather not do, then try to create an atmosphere that is fun or at least pleasant, so that you are making the best of it. This can make it appear to be less monotonous, if you can find a way to make it more entertaining, or to inject some joy in the atmosphere around the particular task.

For those who are maintaining a frantically paced workload, or prolonged period of focused attention on a particular task, learn to stop (stop) and take a break periodically. Get up and go to the bathroom, or stroll to the lunchroom, check out the parking lot, walk up and down a flight of stairs. Whatever you’re doing that is demanding your attention, make time for you, even if it’s only for a few (as few as two) minutes.

Commuters who spend a portion of their day in travel to and from work, or a job site, etc., find a way to break up the commute. Commute time is a great way to study and expand your mind by reading or listening (listening, if you’re driving) to positive information, but also think about breaking up the commute by pulling over, or stopping midway, to get out and stretch, and take the opportunity to allow your mind the opportunity to see or imagine something you might have overlooked amidst the hustle and bustle.

Think on those things that are good. Whenever you have the opportunity to think for yourself, make opportunities to reflect on all the good things this life has to offer. Think about how you might be able to make a contribution to your family or community that will have meaningful impact. Think about avoiding negative news, remain positive, and fill your thoughts with positive, enlightening ideals, while taking time to smell the roses every once and a while.

Sabbatical Take a Break

Sometimes in life amidst the pursuit of success and happiness it is prudent, if not necessary to take a break from the constant grind of your daily routine and completely unplug from your profession for a period of time to re-center, evaluate, reposition yourself and consider charting an entirely new course for your life’s journey.

sabbatical self discovery reconnection take a break

This process takes more than the traditional week or two of vacation and can take months or years. Corporations are seeing the value of this increasing employee or partner value over time and may offer official sabbaticals (extended separation or leave with, or without, pay while not losing their job as they take this important personal time to focus on themselves free from professional constraints).

In some cases, if taking an authorized sabbatical is not an option, one may have to resign completely and walk away.

If you have been stuck in a particular career path for many years, you may need more time to effectively separate, discover and reconnect with your true self. In many cases our sense of self erodes or dissolves away in service to others, especially over long periods of time. Everyone is different, some may require months off to conduct their rediscovery, for others, it could take years.

Being restrained in an intense, high-pressure profession is manageable but over time the stress and strain can understandably take a toll on even the most top performance professional, leading some on a crash course to burnout, or worse, even to suicidal thoughts and tendencies. How much better would it be to take a break (sabbatical) with the likelihood of returning to your profession re-exhilarated and ready to conquer the world?

The better you prepare for your break, the less concerned you will be about the day-to-day responsibilities (part of the purpose of the break). Have some money set aside in savings. Investigate health care or insurance options, maintenance of retirement accounts and other accounts while you remain unplugged.

I had a client who lacking any preparation (but felt it was imperative to take immediate action) quit his job without notice, moved to a small coastal community, lived in a trailer and washed dishes at a restaurant to finance his break. He says it not only saved his life, but empowered him to discover new meaning and purpose in his life. (You might be surprised if you knew who was working in the kitchen at the restaurant you frequent.)

Now, he is back on the top of his game, more successful and better than before following his three-year severance. I know many people who have self-financed their sabbatical via Internet Marketing, where all they needed was an Internet-capable device and an Internet connection… and they never went back to traditional work environment.

Even so, you might consider better preparation for your sabbatical, including plans to return in some fashion, shape or form. It’s best not to burn any bridges upon your departure from service.

What you do during this extended time off is totally up to you. What is important self-focused, self-indulgent, self-sacrificing or inner exploration of self is totally individualized for each person. Do not fashion your break after anyone else’s, nor compare your break to anyone else’s. Even though you may use someone else’s break for inspiration and may even begin modeling after someone’s sabbatical that went before, let your journey unfold and change direction to better suit your own inner work, personal needs and desires.

Take this time to rediscover who you are, your inner being… Connect, or reconnect, with your life’s purpose, your individual mission and message to bring to the world. Find your authentic voice from within and celebrate by singing your song.

Focus on your individualized healing, incorporating rest and relaxation. Engage in activities that thrill you, bring a sense of joy to your soul or give you a strong sense of purpose or meaning. Take this precious time to accomplish some of the items you might love to scratch off of your bucket list.

This is your time to be or do anything you want. Consider travelling to a new location, engaging in a new field of study or trying out new hobbies. Experiment with new recreational activities and technologies, whatever piques your interest, try it; see if you like it.

Expect to emerge like the Phoenix from the ashes. The new you will be more able to achieve more, be more and offer more to the local community and the world at large than ever before.