Note: I originally wrote this on Medium, but I’ll also add to my main site in the event that something happens over there.
We’re closing in on 2019 and on quite a wild decade. I’d imagine that with developments across the political, business, and technological aspects, the next decade will be even wilder. Of course, we can’t really control trends in the world, but we can control our habits and lifestyles.
Now, reflect for a minute. Ask yourselves the following questions:
What did you accomplish this decade?
What didn’t you accomplish this decade?
Are you currently working on any goals?
For me, I achieved the following for this decade:
I got my degree in Computer Science.
I started my career as a software engineer.
I’ve been practicing public speaking to improve my communication skills.
I started to save and invest for my future. Retirement is one way I do it, but I also invest outside my retirement as well.
I lost a good amount of weight after my college days and started to gain more muscle.
For the habits that you have developed, it’s very tempting to just completely unplug just for the holidays. Yes, the holidays aren’t the most productive time of the year. People travel away and social events tend to die down. However, would it be a good idea to completely stop being productive? No!
Because even though it’s the holidays, absolutely nothing in life stops!
How so? Consider the following:
If you started to eat junk food, do you think your body just goes on break due to the holidays? No, your body will still process it and will still cause you to become lethargic, obese, and sick.
If you started to treat other people like crap, do you think others will forget and forgive your actions even though it’s the holidays? No, people still remember how you make them feel. By making them feel like crap will cost you lots of relationships and opportunities.
If you started to commit crimes, do you think you’ll be acquitted because it’s the holidays? No, the law will still be upheld and you’ll still be punished. Have fun ruining your life in prison.
So, if the answer to the above applies during the holidays, what makes you think you can be lazy around the holidays? Simple, other people are taking vacations, eating holiday desserts, and binge-watching on their favorite shows. Because other people do it, you feel entitled to do the same. Once the holidays end, then it can take a while to get back into your groove.
Some of you might argue that’s what New Year Resolutions are meant for. A resolution for starting a business, learning a new skill, getting into shape, etc. Only except they usually don’t work because these types of resolutions require discipline to pull in the (very) long term. For most people, this is really hard to do.
So, if complete detachment is a bad idea, what should you do? You probably already know the answer. Yet, it’s not always easy to do. A Zen quote says it best:
Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water. — Zen Kōan
For those not inclined to Buddhist teachings (not saying that I am either), the above quote can have several meanings depending on the context. In this case, it means that to be great, always be working on yourself and going through the process.
For example, suppose you wanted to become a great software engineer. Even though you’d rather watch baby Yoda on Disney+, you have to be willing to learn new technologies and do side projects on the side.
To build a good physique, you have to be willing to consistently go to the gym and exercise. It also requires you to eat properly every day. You can’t just decide to go to the gym once every two weeks or eat well once a week.
To build that business, you have to be willing to spend a lot of time doing the work. You can’t go out and party every night with your friends.
To build a compelling social life, you have to be willing to go out to the world and interact with others. You can’t spend all your time in your house and expect to have a compelling social life.
The list goes on and on, but all good things don’t come easy. They instead require a lot of work to achieve.
What About Recharging?
That’s not to say that you can never relax. In fact, relaxation is very important to charge up and heal from injuries. If you’re just working nonstop, you probably have an issue when it comes to managing your work.
For example, your physical body has limits when it comes to exercise. Having rest days in your gym routine is vital for getting results. By pushing yourself well beyond those limits, you’ll cause health issues later down the line.
As for mental work, there’s also a limit on how long you can focus on a task. Not giving yourself enough breaks will make it more likely that you just don’t want to do it. In my case, if I stay focused on a task too long, I tend to get fidgety and I start losing focus. By getting up from my chair and walking around, it allows me to process what I just did.
It’s fine to treat yourself once in a while, but just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean that you should stop everything until the next year starts. Instead, just chop wood, carry water.