When You Have to Disconnect in Order to Reconnect

My weekends are officially mines. I’ve reclaimed them and have not looked back.

Before I would bend over backwards for my clients. When I had a working weekend it was to slave away at work that brought me no joy. There was no spark. Mostly that was because I just came to terms with what lights me up, so in hindsight it had nothing to do with my clients. I willingly bypassed the whole “setting boundaries” thing and allowed it to spiral out of control.

Now my weekends are for me and working weekend means I get to dedicate my energy to my own brand. I get to spend time cultivating my own passions. I get to write. I get to watch movies. I get to browse blogs just for fun.

Most importantly, I get to remember why I love doing what I do.

I am a recovering workaholic and I use the term “recovering” very loosely. On the outside, my addiction to work is ill perceived. This is because I have not been clear about my intentions for why I spend so much time behind the monitor. Sure part of is a defense mechanism but most of my “why” comes from this unexplainable drive to constantly be in pursuit of a better version of myself.

There’s always something new to learn, someone new to check out, a new book to read, a new movie trailer to watch and a new obsession to latch onto.

Disconnecting from a portion of the world allows me to experience the world as a spectator instead of as the conquering viking who tries to slay it online every single time. I was treating a marathon as if it were a sprint and wondering why my knees would burn out every few miles.

One time, in the height of my workaholism I was burning the midnight oil on every single end. I was working full-time as a vocational counselor which meant managing a caseload, doing site visits, leading workshops, writing an endless amount of resumes and falling asleep during staff meetings. On top of that I was freelancing as a graphic & web designer in order to fund the entertainment shows I was also producing.

A typical day consisted of working the day job from 9-5, meetings from 5:30-8, freelance work from 9-2am, coordinating logistics and marketing for the shows afterwards until about 4am and if I was lucky, sleep would be from 4-7am unless it was a Sunday night, in which case sleep was not an option.

This was my schedule, more or less, for a little over 8 months. The duties may have varied but the endless time consumed working with little to no sleep was a constant. I had conditioned my 28 year old self that this was acceptable.

I was “crushing it” before I knew what “crushing it” was. Except I wasn’t “crushing it.” I was crushing myself.

Then one summer morning, I felt my body limp. I could not move. I was barely alert but awake enough to know that feeling paralyzed was not a great way to start the day. For about 25 minutes, in what felt like an eternity, I laid in bed running a thousand worse case scenarios through my head.

Eventually my body started to move and I got up from bed, frazzled and alarmed at what I felt. I looked at the time and it was 11:30am. Did I forget to mention this was a work day?

Lucky for me, I had coworkers who were quick to cover for me. They informed my supervisors that I was out on a site visit and would be in the office around 1pm which gave me enough time to get my ‘ish together. One of my coworkers called me to make sure I was OK and to keep me posted on the narrative they told me supervisors.

Crises averted, or was it?

This was a rock bottom moment, one that left such an impression on me that I still remember what it felt like to wake up motionless, to this very day. I remember going into the office, sitting at my cubicle and thinking to myself that something had to change.

Several days later, my work computer died and in that moment of frustration I started to laugh. I looked at my cubicle neighbors and said “I’m done” only I wasn’t referring to work. My first task after IT fixed my computer was drafting a resignation letter.

If you’ve never written a resignation letter, I highly recommend it. You don’t have to quit your job tomorrow. The act of writing a resignation letter is very cathartic for the disgruntled worker and insightful for the worker who is more than happy at their current employment.

What I learned while writing mines was that as petrifying as it was to take that leap of faith into entrepreneurship without a safety net, it was more painful to imagine a life where I didn’t at least try.

Writing your resignation letter will bring your inner CRAP to the forefront. It will give you an opportunity to confront your fears without having to do the work of overcoming them. It will test your comfort zone and put that line in the sand so that you know where your confidence ends and your anxieties begin.

Disconnecting from the world is kind of like writing a resignation letter. It’s putting in place protocol that allows you to reconnect with yourself. When you’re connected to devices, the Internet and social media 24/7, then disconnecting will not only feel foreign but totally uncomfortable. Yet it is necessary if you want to take the leap into awesome-ness.

I’ve started to tell clients that I am no longer available on weekends. Doing so reminded me of handing that resignation letter to my supervisor. Sometimes the scariest choices serve as a catalyst for amazing things to manifest into your life.

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