The assertion, “I’ve earned a day off,” destroys dreams. I don’t exaggerate.
At different times in my life, I’ve managed to get myself onto a good personal schedule. My current schedule looks like this (you can breeze over it, no hard feelings!):
- Wake at 2:30 a.m.
- Let the dogs out, make coffee
- Morning Pages (inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way)
- Cook and eat a light breakfast (a banana, two strips of bacon, 1/3 cup of egg whites)
- Meditate (3 to 5 minutes using the Headspace app)
- Creative writing
- Exercise (30 minutes)
- Walk (listen to an inspiring or motivational audiobook, currently Grit by Angela Duckworth) (30 minutes)
- Say hi to my wife and baby (they’re usually up by then, about 6:30 a.m.)
- Fire up my laptop and get to work on volunteer stuff (I volunteer with the Young Marines)
- Babysit my daughter (wife leaves to work about 8:30 a.m.)
- Baby’s first nap about 10:30 a.m. (I meditate for 15 minutes, then work on my blog)
- Baby’s up, we play, I do dishes
- I take baby somewhere (grocery shopping, the park, etc.)
- Baby’s second nap about 3:30 p.m. (I continue blogging)
- Baby’s up, we play
- I cook dinner
- Wife is home (about 5:30 p.m.)
- We eat dinner together at the dinner table, talk about our day
- I get ready for bed and lie down by 6 p.m. (earlier if possible)
I’ve been on that schedule (with minor adjustments) for more than two weeks now. It is awesome! My wife is so understanding. Although we spend less time together overall, the time we spend is of higher quality. We chat about our day and we play with our baby together.
Some mornings, though, I wake up tired. At 2:30 a.m., it’s particularly tempting to think, “I’ll just push the alarm out one hour…maybe two.” What would it affect? I don’t have to clock in. I just should be up (around 8 a.m.) to watch the baby when my wife leaves for work. But all that other stuff…writing, exercising, volunteering? I can skip that. I’m tired.
I’ve earned a day off.
Those fateful words have ended many previous, excellent schedules I’ve put in place in the past. Schedules that have produced a happier, healthier “me” in which I learn, grow as a person, and, well, shrink as a person, too, as those unwanted pounds have melted away (I once went from 250 to 180 lbs on such a schedule…as of now, I’m back up to 240 lbs).
After seeing years of my life dwindle away, wondering what could have been had I just stuck to that schedule, I’m fed up. I’ve done great things, but I could have done much—much—more.
Now, every morning, when I’m tired, I remind myself:
I’ve earned a day on.
I remind myself that I’ve worked hard in past days, and weeks, and (soon) months to earn this new day to be awesome again.
Sure, sick days are useful. Vacation days are important. Just use them wisely: as needed for sick days, or by planning vacation in advance, including what you’ll do (or not do) on those days.
Don’t look forward to days off. Every day should be a day on.