Time Off #3: When Time Off Becomes An Excuse

Allow me to ask: What is the name of this blog?

Keep Climbing Forever, that’s what its called. It is not called “Climb Whenever You Feel Like It.” It is not called “Climb But Then Stop Whenever Things Suck.” And it is definitely not called “Climbing Sucks, I’d Rather Be On The Beach All Day.”

I’ve posted two articles about taking time off from climbing what I call the Mountain of Life. And it is true that overworking yourself will make you much less productive in the long run. Additionally, spreading yourself too thin with different things that you want to do is going to overwhelm you to the point of existential suicide. There are times where you need to stop doing certain things so you can work on others. That is what time off is really about.

Anyone who tells you “you should do everything all the time!” Are probably not doing anything at any time except exactly one thing. These are people who kill themselves (figuratively but sometimes literally) working 70 hours a week and then they do nothing else. My father was one such person. He died of cancer right before turning 53, and I honestly could not see him living past 60 because he was such a workaholic. The other group who tell you this are people who spread themselves so thin that they have less than mediocre performance in everything they do.

For example, let’s look at the physical things I do. Of these things, I do only one thing competitively: Bowling, Golf, weightlifting, core work, and cardiovascular. Can you imagine the overwhelm I would be staring down if I decided to do all of these things competitively? Would I be able to perform well at any of these if I did them competitively? I highly doubt it.

By 2020, I wish to have at least 3 sources of income without punching a time clock. Just thinking about these makes me extremely overwhelmed to the point where I do not want to do any of them. If I just focused on one at a time instead of all of them at a time, how much more productive would I be? This is where time off (in one thing, so you can continue developing in others) comes in.

The Mountain of Life is not just about work. It is about relationships, exploration, hobbies, and how using each of those things can make us better people. And sometimes taking some time off can help us get that much better.

All of that being said, if you want to take time off, you need to know two things:

First, time off does not mean “do nothing for awhile.” It means you are taking time off ONE thing, so you can get better at others. In very rare circumstances should you take “time off life” as I say. These circumstances are a significant loss of a loved one, or an extremely traumatic life experience. Even in these circumstances, this time off should not be long and you should spend it by finding resources and support.

Second, your time off should only last as long as it needs to last. As I mentioned in my first article about taking time off, if you are physically injured, figuring this out is easy. When you are physically cleared, it is time to get back to the activity you had to take time off from. When it comes to other stuff, this is not so clear. When it comes to your mental state, there are certainly times where you may think you are injured, but you really are not. So, how do you know?

I suggest the “one month” test. This is where you stop doing something for a whole month, come back to it, and see if you do any better or worse. Usually, you’ll be a little better because you will not be so burnt out. If you are not better, and you still feel burnt with the activity, take one more month off of it. Then come back and see if you are still burnt out.

One thing that needs to be stated is that in order to take time off, you must be either injured or burnt out. There are no other excuses. When I moved in the summer, I decided to take a month off of freelance writing. This was a very bad idea, especially since I had developed a lot of momentum doing it. I was making roughly $150 a week doing the same kind of stuff I do in my blogs; writing and/or correcting things that I wrote. But I took time off because I just kind of wanted to, and it was not a good idea. And now, I am scrambling to make money online again, and it is not working out the way I want it to.

Before you take time off of something, you really need to understand why you are taking time off. Ask yourself tough questions. As I keep mentioning, an injury if obvious. But if it is something other than an injury, you need to ask yourself before taking time off if you are truly burnt out. And under no circumstances, take time off when you are enjoying something or experiencing any form of momentum in it.

Time off is not an excuse to stop improving.


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