Like most young hopefuls graduating from college, I was determined to land my dream job and begin a new and exciting chapter in life. The young and naive me somehow believed that companies would be rolling out the red carpet to have me walk through the front door and sign a contract. Boy, was I wrong. Despite writing countless emails and pouring my heart into hundreds of cover letters, most companies didn’t acknowledge my existence. I received a “thank you for your interest, but…” email if I was lucky. After almost a year of searching, I finally landed my first “adult” job with my fancy new college degree and I was driven to prove myself.
My days consisted of waking up at the crack of dawn, reading books on the train commute into the city, sinking in countless (unpaid) overtime hours at work learning new skills, reading more on the evening commute back home, eating dinner and going to the gym, then working on side hustles until it was time for bed, only to repeat the same thing the next day. More often than not, these efforts carried over into my weekends.
Eventually, I hit a wall. I needed a day off, but during this phase of my life, taking a break didn’t even cross my mind. I already “wasted” enough time just by sleeping at night, but my hand was forced to preserve my own physical and mental well-being.
Now, taking a day (or days) off each week has become a necessity for me. Here is why you should take a lazy day as well:
You’ll make better decisions.
When I finally took a day to let everything go and focus on breathing, I found myself standing outside of my pattern, taking on a new vantage point for assessing my own life. Have you ever found it easier to give advice to somebody else than to yourself? If so, it’s likely because its easier to be standing outside of the car directing your buddy as he’s trying to parallel park than it is to be the one in the driver’s seat trying to park it. Standing outside of the car, you can see the surroundings clearly. While driving, you have blind spots and restricted vision. By taking a lazy day and stepping away from my normal rituals, I found myself having an “outside perspective” of my life, almost like an out-of-body experience. I was able to direct myself without any “blind spots.”
Pretend that you have just sold off your life to somebody else — your home, your car, your business, your hobbies, your relationships, etc. What advice would you give to this person who is now leading your life? Have you been following this advice yourself? If not, it’s because it tends to be easier to assess from the outside than it is to assess yourself internally. Our emotions tend to haze our vision. When we break out routine and distance ourselves, we take on a purer perspective — a clear and sharpened point of view which is vital for making strong and wise decisions and judgments.
By taking a day to break out of our normal patterns, we acquire a clearer and sharper mind for when it’s time to make decisions that matter most — decisions that shape our futures.
“Know that it’s your decisions, and not your conditions, that determine your destiny.”Tony Robbins
You’ll feel happier.
I have found that taking a day off is paramount to overall health and happiness. It may seem counterproductive to spend a day being lazy but remember that humans are emotional beings; to keep our emotions in check, we must keep our brains healthy and rested. Adequate rest parallels to a better balance of hormones, which in turn results in less stress, better mood, and an overall better sense of well-being.
Keep in mind that the ultimate purpose of a lazy day is to take all your attention off the leading factors of stress, anger, and overall negativity in your life. It is an opportunity to free yourself of schedules and obligations to make time for the things that you normally push off to the side. Take this time to do something that will make you feel relaxed and happy, such as getting immersed in a video game, sweating it out on a hike, meeting up with friends for brunch, reading a book and letting your imagination run wild… whatever it is that you desire. The key here is to end your day feeling relaxed, happy, and most importantly, guilt-free.
“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
You’ll find fulfillment in the cracks.
Building from the previous point, a lazy day an excellent opportunity to make time for the things that you normally push off to the side. Do not deny your heart what it desires. Do not neglect those seemingly small, lingering cravings in the back of your mind. Remember to find time to “set life aside,” so to speak, and let the little things come to the forefront and get some much-needed sunlight for growth. You may uncover a hidden talent by picking up that guitar, initiate a new career path by attending that seminar, or meet your soul-mate sitting on the bench at the park feeding the ducks. Don’t be too busy for the “little things,” because life is a beautiful, rich fabric woven from a collection of these little experiences. Take a day off and get sewing.
You’ll keep the fire burning.
Try imagining a day and night cycle with no transition — scorching, hot sun followed immediately by darkness at the snap of a finger. It wouldn’t feel right, would it? There is something therapeutic about sunsets. The soft colors, the comfortable warmth, the calm atmosphere… we can feel our energies winding down in preparation for the night, only to re-awaken at sunrise.
A rest day is a day to step back and to let the fire simmer to a soft glow as we rest and refuel our energy for what is to come. It is easy to lose sight of our goals and visions when beating ourselves up on a daily basis. By taking a day to unwind, we allow ourselves to wake up the next morning feeling re-energized and re-motivated to dive back into the things which matter most to us.
Remember that although it may seem counterproductive to take a day to do nothing, sometimes you have to roll the car back before you can push it forward, and sometimes you have to simply not give a f**k before you can re-establish urgency, thus re-igniting your passions and excitement for your craft. It all boils down to managing your energy. Then next time you feel yourself running on empty, do yourself a favor and refuel with a lazy day.