My work has been intense over the last few months. I have been working longer hours and my responsibilities have grown. The emotional work of thinking, planning, connecting and working even when I am not on my computer is expanding. Overall, it feels aligned with my values and in many ways, this is what I asked for, so I really can’t complain. I find tremendous meaning and joy from my work at this point in my life and while I wish I could gain the mastery and impact I’d like without the intensity and pressure, the reality is that’s not often not likely and I am reasonably content with how things are panning out.
However, I noticed there were many times I’d tell myself (or others) a version of my life that sounded like this – “All I do these days is work”.
And one evening after repeating these words, I paused myself and realized that yes, I have been working hard but that’s not the only thing I am doing. As I reflected on my days and weeks there were many, many hours of non-work activities that nourished my soul and filled up my heart, yet it was so easy for me to get caught in this somewhat limiting story of life that I was telling myself.
So, I started a new experiment, inspired by Laura Vanderkam’s latest book, Off the clock (that I absolutely loved). I built a list called “Savoring September” and documented the many ways in which my days didn’t involve work and was full of joy and richness. And there were two interesting learnings here –
- I savored and enjoyed my work even more and was not feeling resentful of all the extra hours I was putting in because my log assured me that my life was indeed very balanced and beautiful. Work wasn’t a blocker in any way to living my life, if anything it was enabling many of the joys and was well integrated with all the different parts of myself. Yes, it took planning and effort and trade offs but overall my life was more balanced that I imagined it to be.
- It made me enjoy these beautiful moments more as I’d remind myself these were my savoring September moments and were going on the list. I’d look at this list almost every day and my heart would instantly fill up with joy.
Curious what my September list looked like? Here’s a quick peak into my savoring September list –
There were several nights of biking/walking after dinner with the kids, walks to our downtown once a dinner date with Sumit on a Wednesday night, few hikes on weekends, and one on a Friday morning with a friend and still made it to my desk by 8 am. There were a few barre classes too😊
There were several nights of delicious healthy home cooked meals and a few new recipes too. There were a few trips to the farmer’s market and over 25 pounds of fresh tomatoes bought this month. I had a bonus dinner with a new friend at the farmer market one Thursday evening. We had friends over both on weeknights and weekends. We spent a few evenings when friends and family cooked for us. We had a few trips to the food truck as well. We had a sitter come one evening and we got to enjoy a lovely relaxing meal.
I was off the clock most evenings not worrying about logging back in to work. There were evenings with headspace before bed, with lots of snuggles and warm cuddly little people in bed next to me. There were lots of nights with good sleep and my body waking up well rested the next morning.
We celebrated Saveer’s birthday camping with my grandfather and made a whole wheat pistachio saffron cake with Vivaan for the birthday boy.
I spent an evening at a spa with a friend and had a nice kid free dinner in San Francisco to celebrate birthdays. I spent a day exploring a new park in SF with the kids and a friend and topped it off with a lovely indulgence with Sumit and Vivaan at one of our favorite restaurants while Saveer slept peacefully in the stroller. There were 2 simple kid birthday parties that we greatly enjoyed too.
We went apple picking (for the first time) and made 2 trips to Gilroy Gardens that the kids (and me!) absolutely loved. We even squeezed in a burger date night after they were exhausted from all the rides.
And finally, there were many joyful conversations with friends and family over the phone! And one bonus live conversation with Sumit where we explored our bucket list item of living in another country with absolutely no plans on the execution, but hey we enjoyed sharing our dreams!
Wow, that was a lot of good stuff in a month. Yes, I have been working most weekends and there are enough days when my alarm goes off at 4:30 am and I am at my desk at 6 am but that’s not the only version of the story. I can work well, master the skills needed to have a purposeful career and still have time and energy for the things that matter.
One small catch – Writing needs to fit into my savoring lists. I am starting again with this post. I am hopeful there will be more writing next year if not sooner😊