It’s been a quiet week, here beside Cultus Bay. That’s a rare thing to hear from me lately, but it’s true. And it was welcome. In the world of ironies, though, the less I worked, the more good news happened to arrive.
Life has been crazy enough since my Triple Whammy. Many people have patiently listened to my descriptions of working seven days a week, frequently from 8 to 8. The last four months were a climax of overlapping (mostly temporary) assignments that were the first time in years when I made more than my bills (just in time for taxes); but at the cost of my health (oops, diabetes).
Without any great planning, several deadlines were accomplished and passed. A few major but temporary projects were completed. And then, a great gap in my schedule. There were a few items to work on, but my work life looked like a downhill roll after a long bicycle ride uphill. One of the messages from my health scare was that self-care had been neglected. I knew I’d neglected it. But, times and taxes demanded taking the risk of the added stress and strain. Now, health demanded taking time for taking care.
I quietly settled into a week with only one scheduled meeting. Shh. Don’t tell anyone.
It is easy to fall out of good habits. It took me several evenings to remember what I would do when I had free time. A very spooky feeling. I’m not surprised when I hear about people who fear retirement because they won’t know how to spend their time. Relax. There’ll always be something to do, and it’s also good to learn when to do nothing – and learning to relax can take effort.
It was weird enough to realize I forgot how I spent evenings. It was even weirder to feel my body adjust. For a day or two, everything seemed the same. Then, aches began for seemingly no reason; my muscles were so tight for so long that relaxing them hurt. Time for a massage. I got a tour of the extent of the tensed muscles thanks to a quick massage by Faith Bushby (she does in-store massages at Star Store Basics in Langley on Wednesdays). My body was so tight that it was as if eye strain was the new normal. A bit of relaxation and I could see more clearly. How many hints does a guy need to relax?
There was weirdness at work, too, and in a good way. Instead of sending out a swarm of emails asking for my next assignments, the assignments started showing up unsolicited. By the end of the week (and it isn’t over yet), I had three or four new assignments with existing clients, plus leads on two more. Evidently (and happily), I’m now some unofficial Welcome to Whidbey person. Someone connected via Twitter and we connected at a local coffee shop. Synchronicity happens and the meeting revealed some nice networking opportunities, plus I may have inadvertently connected a household with a house for sale (that I happened to have written the listing’s marketing remarks for). (Maybe I should try this realty thing, after all.) The flourish on top was a raise, a >75% raise from a client who finally realized that I’d “been working for peanuts.” Granted, this is after an 80% cut in the budget (the math: (1-0.8)*(1+0.75) = 0.35 ), but that means “only” a 65% cut for less time; and I can use the extra time for that personal care I mentioned.
A friend and ace consultant, Steve Smolinsky, has an entertaining and insightful blog about life and corporate culture. For years he has advocated for the kind of time I just spent. His calls them Clarity Breaks. Of course, his application of the idea is clearer and not interrupted with even the low level of chores and tasks I took on; but the effect is similar. Sometimes the best way to move ahead is to stand still.
I’ve been pushing hard because I’ve had to, but as I’ve shown, it is possible to push too much. Clarity Breaks aren’t new to me. Most people have ways to take some time for themselves. I do, or at least did, too. Look back on some of these posts when evening found me sitting on the deck with a cocktail beside me.
The cocktail wasn’t necessary except as an anchor that kept me in my seat for long enough to drink it, and relax. Whether it is a cocktail (which I can’t have now, rats) or a cup of tea, I found that sitting still for an hour usually ended with quickly and efficiently completing a series of tasks. Relaxing isn’t just about making a person more efficient, but it is one of the easier successes to describe and celebrate.
I suspect that given enough discretionary cash, I’d take a week to clear my mind, probably a month to reinvigorate my body, and months to regain my health. I’m not there, yet.
Two other things happened that put the rest in perspective, even that garnish. MVIS had a good week. Two impressive days saw the stock rise over 10%. By the end of the week, MVIS was up over 27%. I’ll save the analysis until after next week’s conference call, but that activity increased my net worth by almost a month’s living expenses. My portfolio and my house are probably both undervalued and both have reasons that their values may rise faster than my typical monthly revenues – without me having to push hard (except when I mow the lawn.) Maybe that’s the secret. Do less. Relax. Let things take care of themselves.
It has been a quiet week, and the quiet times can be the best times – in many ways.