I read an article this week about doing nothing. How our natural instinct in most situations is to DO SOMETHING, but, sometimes, doing nothing can be the better choice. How, in the space in between each chapter in our life stories, a pause can bring clarity. Good decisions about the important things take time.
I found this really rather profound. And realised something. My last post talked about how I had come to appreciate alone time. But it’s more than that. My whole life has been about being busy; taking action, decision-making, high octane. Ask anyone who knew me five years ago and they would have said I was made that way, that I would go mad without a list of things to do. Part of me went along with that narrative, but it never felt completely right. I would relish the quiet moments; the daily commute to work (who admits to even vaguely enjoying commuting!), early mornings before anyone else was up. Looking back, I realise now I would find ways to boost my quota of those moments; taking sick days, going to bed early at social events.
I’ve also realised that much of my previous busyness was counterproductive. I would create work which wasn’t necessary, spend money on things I neither needed or wanted. In 2008, when I was made redundant following the financial crash, I received a generous payout, a space between chapters if ever there was one, and a chance to create something new. I immediately went into overdrive, setting up two businesses, paying for expensive retraining, and generally running around like a headless chicken, all in an attempt to show how capable I was. In the end the money ran out, and instead of the hoped for change of lifestyle, I was forced to look for another job, back to square one in the City, as unhappy as I’d been before.
I forgive myself; there were circumstances and responsibilities which made it hard for me to be more measured. But I’m learning from it.
I find myself in a space in between again, and this time around I’ve promised myself I will do things differently. I live more cheaply with less stress and less to do, which gives me more flexibility. And doing less is proving way easier than I, or anyone else, would have predicted. I find I can wake up and just lie in bed for an hour or two, or simply sit looking out of the window. Guess what? I’m a daydreamer after all. The peace I feel from doing absolutely nothing is way better than the fleeting sense of achievement I got from doing stuff for the sake of it.
I know I will get to a place where my next chapter becomes clear, but for now I’m happy taking my time, putting my feet up and learning to breathe again.
P.S. This post also allowed me to include a gratuitous photo of my fab new boots 🙂