I had a cheese-curls-and-pajama day yesterday.
Let me explain. I recently left my C-suite job in a blue chip company. I took a long, careful look across the abyss and leapt. I believed all the people who said, yes, there is life beyond the corporate world. You will never look back.
I am excited. Apprehensive certainly, but delighted by the scent of promise in the air, the warm breath of endless possibility.
But it’s a big change when you are used to working from 7 to 7. As a wise person said to me, “Your engine has been racing at full speed. You can’t just stop dead and not expect it to be very, very hot.”
The vision you paint for yourself is quite different than the first week or two of your new found freedom. The view that I had seen across the chasm involved owning my own diary and achieving that mythical work-life balance. Guiding potential clients without the burden of owning the implementation. Being able to leave for weekends away on a Friday morning, returning on a Monday, or God forbid, a Tuesday!
So in the first few weeks, once the farewell lunches and coffee chats with well wishers (and those who simply want the dirt – were you pushed? Why would you give up such an incredible role?) are over, you find yourself having those in-between days.
Which is why I sometimes find myself wandering unchecked to the fridge. Or taking selfies with the cat. Not good days by my standards.
My first “task” was to clear out my study. Inspiration would only find me once I decluttered. Sitting on the floor, up to my ears in screwed up paper and unopened mail, I briefly missed being in a windowless meeting room, with coffee being brought to me in a paper cup.
An ex-colleague said to me “I’m sooo envious. If I were you I’d be getting up at 10 and then watching reruns of Big Bang Theory all day.” Her comment made me wonder why I was judging myself so harshly. Why did I feel that a day not spent in back to back meetings was unproductive? It’s not like the majority of these meetings yielded a great deal of value if I’m terribly honest.
Interesting word that… Value.
It got me thinking about what it is that I truly value? What am I really about? Do I need to be Important in a Company to be valued by others and more importantly by myself? At the end of the day, is it only about what I do and what am I good at? And why oh why do things I did in my spare time when I was working now seem frivolous and indulgent. Things like photography, writing, cooking. After all that’s what you do after work or on weekends, not at 10am on a Tuesday!
It would be wonderful to be ‘defined’ more by what I like to do in my spare time and by what I’m interested in. Would this not tell you more about me than my job title did? What if we stopped asking new acquaintances what they do when we meet, especially when we know that so many people don’t even enjoy their jobs or see it as a 9-5 means to an end? Why don’t we ask them what they love to do most? It would certainly tell us more about them.
It doesn’t come naturally, but I’m determined to set my own course, not follow one set for me by others in society. I want my identity to be about who I am and not what I do. So I’m going to embrace those unstructured days and enjoy the break from the hamster wheel.
I really should also take it easy on the cheese curls.