For quite a while now, I’ve been planning to make a job change. The entry-level publishing job I’ve occupied for nearly a year and a half is, shall we say, no longer challenging, and I want to find a part-time job that will cover expenses while I build a freelance writing business.
Unfortunately the rigours of full-time work turn me into a sloth in my downtime, and I found I had very little energy to dedicate to job-hunting (let alone any creative projects). I was starting to feel really burnt out and desperately needed a break from work that would last more than a week, so at the end of last year I decided to use up all of my annual leave. I had three weeks off.
And, oh, what plans I had for those three weeks. I was determined to find a new job. I was going to go into application overdrive and write cold calling letters and schedule informational interviews. I also wanted to do a ton of writing and a new painting. I was going to get this blog ready for launch by writing the first 10 posts! Oh yeah, and exercise every day. Naturally.
Of course, I also needed to relax, so the first week was earmarked for enjoying Christmas and chilling out with a book or two. After that – to work. But as the clock ticked over into the new year, I just kept on chillin’.
Here’s what I did over my break. I spent Christmas with my family. I spent time with my friends. I went to a friend’s beach house for a few days. I swam in the ocean. I saw a bright red hermit crab peek out of the most fantastic shell I’ve ever seen washed up on an Australian beach. I played Risk 2210 AD with the boys until we all wanted to kill each other (it was great!). I shot a roll of film on my new lomo. I got rid of half my clothes and a piece of furniture that had been taking up too much space for months. And I ate way too much junk food and played Kingdom ofLoathing until my brain went numb.
I think I went to the gym once.
I did sit down to write job applications, but after going through the pile of ads I’d collected I deemed them all unsuitable and threw them out. In the last few days I made a start on updating my CV.
This week was my first back at work, and I went into overdrive. Work was hectic, but that didn’t stop me from going out three nights (normally I would be sacked out on the couch in exhaustion) and completing a lengthy job application to boot. I feel energised, more organised and positive about the future. My three weeks paid off big time.
Anyway, here’s my point. All too often, us creative types take time off our day jobs only to spend that time working blisteringly hard on other projects. Or we come home from a full working day only to do yet more work for ourselves. There’s always more work to be done, and sometimes we forget to switch off. Sometimes even for years on end.
I didn’t mean to slack off over the break – I was going to work hard and achieve some goals. But I blew off the goals for a bit and had some fun instead. So remember that you need to take a break every year, every week, every day. The work can wait.
Relax, man. It’s good for you.