Everyone can take two months out of life – yes, really!

man on dock - taking time off

Today marks the end for me of six weeks of not working.

I have loved it!

Oh my goodness.

My closet is cleared out and tidy. My emails are in some semblance of order. I’ve baked and cooked new recipes. I keep the place clean and cook dinners for my boyfriend (go feminism, haha!)

I’ve read books on finding my passion, being positive, and other things that interest me. Some days I haven’t done much, if I’m honest. And other days I am hugely productive. I’m realizing that both are beneficial to me.

When I meet up with people, I’m calm, relaxed and rested. I do something every day in terms of exercise/working out, and I’m introducing a few other daily habits that I hope will stick, to help me better in the future. I’m starting to pursue a career that I love. Actually a passion, rather than a career.

Of course, I still have bad days, bad moods, low points, and worries. I’m human – and I’m a worrier. But I try to be aware of them, let them go through me, and realize that tomorrow is a new day, and the worries are likely to have disappeared or sound stupid by then.

Anyway, enough about that.

Now I know what you’re thinking… of course six weeks off would be great! I’d get all that stuff done too if I had six weeks off! Hell – I’d only need two weeks off, and then I would go and do more amazing things the rest of the time!

Yep. It’s true. Having six weeks off (or two months, which I think is even better), is awesome. Really fucking awesome 🙂

But I’m not trying to sound arrogant, or rub it in your face. No, really. Hear me out.

What do you think were some of the responses I’ve had to my time off?!

Oh – lady of leisure, huh?!

Oh I’d love to do that – but there’s no way I can.

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if we could all take two months off from life!

Etc., etc. Said to me with the faintest whiff of jealousy (maybe?), and a slight undertone of something… like I don’t quite understand things any more. (And maybe I don’t!)

So I wanted to talk about something controversial today.

What if we did all take two months out of life? (Not at the same time, duh!)

What if I told you that you could too?

I imagine you’d say: you’re delusional! The sun has gone to your head!

And maybe it has. I can’t argue with that. (Okay, stop rubbing it in, Claire!)

I am being serious. I don’t think I’ve been this serious about anything for a while!

What if you took two months off from life? No, not a holiday (although I guess you could take a holiday if you wanted).

Two months, to do all the things that are bugging you… weighing you down… annoying you… holding you back.

Get a system set up on your emails so your inbox doesn’t scare you. Read a ton of books about things you’ve always wanted to know. Get to know your local area. Start volunteering. Declutter your house (you don’t need all the shit you think you need). Get back in touch with friends and family. Whatever is important to YOU.

We all know what our personal energy drainers are – the things hanging over our head that won’t go away, that we pretend we’re okay with, but really they’re still looming over us.

Sounds good, huh? Or maybe you don’t give a shit about that, and you just want two months to relax, do nothing, sleep (ah – the elusive sleep!), watch TV or slob around. That’s fine too.

So what I’m proposing is that everyone can do this.

Yeah, yeah. I know. You’re mad with me right now – because I am crazy. I clearly have no idea how the world works, and people with jobs and commitments can’t just take two months off, thank you very much!

But WHY?!

No, I’m serious!

Why not?

Why have we convinced ourselves that this is impossible?

Two months isn’t long, on a life scale of 70 years. (It’s 0.2%. So we’re not talking crazy figures here.)

I think we’d all agree that two months would be a nice amount of time to get back on track, sort things out, have a breather. (A proper breather – not a two week holiday where you just start to relax and then you’re back at work.)

And I can personally confirm that two months off is great 🙂 (Okay, seriously, shut up Claire.)

But everyone I talk to tells me it’s not that easy, I don’t really understand, and I’m not living in the real world (maybe I don’t want to live there then – ha).

Okay, I will understand – if you give me a good, valid reason why it can’t be done. (Feel free to comment at the end. I’m sure I’ve missed lots of good points, and I’d like to consider them.)

So now I’m going to try to counteract the many, many arguments you could have for taking two months off from life…

#1 – I/we have a newborn baby.

Fair enough. (And congratulations!) I completely hear you on this. I’m not promoting quitting your parental duties, or cutting out that quality bonding time when you bring a little person into the world. I don’t think now is the right time for you to take two months off (unless you want to, with the newbie). But why not plan something for a year or two away? Sometimes just making plans is enough to keep us sane, and give us something to work towards. (See #2 for how you can take time out with kids.) Why not revisit the idea in 2, 5 or 10 years’ time? Whenever is right for you.

#2 – I have kids! It’s not that easy for parents! (You fool!)

Yeah yeah yeah. I don’t have kids right now, so I guess that some people will consider my arguments invalid from this point on. I don’t know about routines and bedtimes and illnesses and stress and tantrums and feeding and school/nursery. I have no idea about tears at bedtime or getting up in the middle of the night over and over again, or the overwhelming love, fear and joy that you feel every day. Or even the sacrifice that you make just by having kids. Every. Single. Day. (That’s sacrifice every day, not having kids every day.)

But what I do know is that…

You being less stressed, is better for your kids. Your kids seeing you happy and relaxed, is great for them and will make them happy. You could be an inspiration for your kids. The improvements in your life will directly affect them. If you took your two months off and just focused on childhood learning or games (for example), think how much it could change their lives! Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean you don’t still have feelings, wants, desires, and dreams. And having seen first-hand the depression, resentment, and anxiety when a parent sacrifices and devotes themselves to their kids for years on end, and then the kids grow up, and the parent has no idea who they are or where they’re going, is enough to make me yell for young parents to take some time for themselves whenever they can.

So how can we do this? What are the options? Of course, everyone is different, and I’m just flinging some ideas around. I’m just having fun with it. And you should too!

– What if you diligently tried to save up some money, and took two months off next year or the year after?

– What if you and your partner (if relevant), took it in turns, so you have two months off and then they do?

– What if you planned some holidays for your kids so they are away for a few weeks or longer? Camp, staying with relatives or friends, etc. It won’t kill them! (In fact, it might be great for them.)

– What if you organized a neighbourhood plan with other parents in your community, so everyone takes their two months “off” at some point, while the others have a collective babysitting thing going on? Yes I know, it’s pie in the sky thinking. You know your kids and your life best, and maybe you don’t live in that kind of community. But before you discount it entirely, ask yourself if it is impossible, or just difficult.

– If they’re at school: what if you had two months “off” during weekdays only? Busy weekends and evenings, but in the daytime you do what is best for you for two months? No guilt or pressure allowed during the day. Cook up a bunch of dinners at the weekend, get the groceries and washing and cleaning done as a group effort, spend the evenings in the hurdy-gurdy and chaos of life, but during the day…? Your time: no chores. End of. Worth a thought anyway. It’s only for two months.

– Team up with other parents. Okay, so you decide to take weekdays “off” for two months, but you get sidetracked or have no idea where to start. Get that organized friend round to kick your butt for a week. Have the guy who fixes everything come round and get a bunch of things sorted out for you. Offer money if you can, or do something in return for them. Let’s share our talents, and pool the results!

#3 – I’ve just started a new job/industry.

Perhaps this is the best time to do it then! You’d just be postponing your start date! No, I do get it. You’ve studied or worked hard, and finally got to where you want to be – the last thing you want to do is take time off. Of course. Well done on the new job/career path. But don’t forget about it altogether, okay?! Keep it in the back of your mind, just in case you need a little breather in the future 🙂

#4 – I don’t want to quit my job.

You don’t have to quit your job! In fact – this is the opposite. This is coming back to your job, refreshed, rejuvenated, ready to do more, and be more. This is taking a mini-break, but still remaining committed. And if you still think it means that you have to quit your job, see #8 for what to do if you think your company won’t let you.

#5 – It’s just something that rich people do.

I’m sorry. I don’t buy this. I think this is an excuse. If you’re telling me that you’re not broke (i.e. you have money to spend on things other than food, shelter, and transportation or whatever your essentials are), but there’s still no way you could put a hold on your spending, with the aim of taking two months off in the future, I don’t think the issue is that you can’t afford it. I think the issue is that you don’t want to, or you don’t see the benefits. Both of which are fine. But let’s not make excuses about not being rich, eh?

#6 – I can’t afford it.

Okay. This is a fair argument. I hear you. Let me ask you something. Really can’t afford it (see #7), or think you can’t afford it? How much do you spend on alcohol? Going out? Restaurants? Seeing friends? Activities, days out, courses, treats, gadgets, clothes, sports? Or whatever you spend your money on. Yes, you say, but I need those things. They help keep me sane, get me through life.

And two months off wouldn’t do that?!

What if you gave up buying, or doing, those things – for a little while, to save some money? I mean, actually stop doing them for a few months. Not just spending slightly less, or having one pint instead of two. Full out stopping. But that’s no fun! you say. No – but how will you feel when you have your two months off?! Are you honestly telling me that it’s better to spend money on things you don’t 100% need, than taking two months off to discover who you are? (If you are, then I’ve completely failed with my aim of this post!)

Worried your friends won’t want to hang round you if you stop spending money and doing fun things for a few months? What kind of friends are these?! You say, I’m doing an experiment to take some time out of life, and they say, well if you’re not drinking tonight I can’t be friends with you? Nah. I don’t think so.

#7 – I’m broke… I’m in debt and I can barely afford to eat at the moment. So you telling me this is actually quite offensive.

Okay. Don’t panic. Of course this is not your priority right now. Get yourself back on track, and figure out what you need to do to help yourself at this point: get money counselling, adopt a budget or spending plan, take a few jobs, get back in the red. You can revisit this whenever you like. There’s no deadline, or rush. Okay?

#8 – My work wouldn’t let me.

Okay, for a start, it’s interesting how much we let the places we work rule our lives for us, huh? Who is this “company”, who makes all the decisions for us about the most important thing to us – our life? There is no “company”. There’s members of staff, and directors etc. – and you never know for sure what they will say… until you ask.

Yes, I agree – they might say no. But they also might consider it. Have you ever asked them about taking unpaid leave? Or an extended holiday? What is their policy on a sabbatical? Start asking these questions, before you make decisions for them.

Or if you’re looking to change jobs… Can you squeeze in two months before you start your new job? No, I’m not talking about job hunting or unemployment – taking two months out of life is not job hunting/looking for work! I’ve done both, and they are very different things! Job hunting can be stressful, aggravating, depressing, difficult and demotivating. The very opposite of what time out of life should be 🙂

Anyway, you could put a good case forward. You’re not leaving the company! Do they want you to come back to work refreshed, more creative, ready to work, and feeling good? Do they want you to say good things about the company? (I worked for so-and-so, and this is how good they were to work for!) Are they worried that other people will do the same? Very unlikely. The percentage of people who agree with me when I say everyone can take two months out of their life – probably zero! I don’t think you have any concerns about that! Are they worried you’ll leave afterwards? So what. Maybe you will. They have the same risk with people on parental leave. But they don’t ban all pregnancies!

#9 – I’m worried I won’t want to go back to work.

Well first of all, well done for admitting it! There’s a kind of fear here. I understand. I think we all do. But we can break it down into two parts:

1 – You think you might not want to go back to your job. Okay, well this is what the two months is all about! Finding out what you do want to do, discovering yourself, having a breather and checking in with where you’re going (and if you want to go there). Sounds impossible? You’d be surprised what comes up when you’re relaxed! Why not take the risk… of future happiness?

2 – You think you’ll want to stay off work forever. Sorry to break the bubble, but despite what we all claim, doing nothing is boring. You will get bored. If your plan for your two months is to do nothing, that’s totally cool – but I guarantee that at the end of the two months you will be itching to do something. The idyllic holiday vision of lying on a beach drinking cocktails is just that – a vision we have been sold. Look a little deeper into the vision. Who are you spending these days on the beach with?! Everyone else is working! By the third week of drinking cocktails, you’re a bit sick of them! Lying in the sun is nice, but there are other things you’ll want to do! So don’t worry – taking two months off will not make you lazy. It will more likely make you inspired.

#10 – I’m studying and doing a full-time job. You have no idea about my time or my schedule.

Okay. I hear you. You’re right, and I don’t. See #1, I have a newborn. Knuckle down. Get your shit done. Revisit. Have it as a reward when you finish. A glittery, shiny reward for all your hard work 🙂

#11 – I want to go travelling in the future, and this would “use up” the time I can take off.

Fair enough. This is a good point. And good for you. But why don’t we take this excellent idea further… What if you had 2/3 months off to go travelling, and when you came back you were revitalized, fresh, reborn, happy, inspired, glowing…?! What if you worked twice as hard at your job when you got back, and got better and better results?! Would it ever be worth doing something similar again? Don’t discount it. More and more companies are becoming aware of the benefits of flexibility and sabbaticals. So let’s use that to our advantage. I see it as win-win 🙂

So… what?

Am I crazy? Am I the only person in the world who thinks that we all just need a little time to breathe?

I’m not talking about going travelling. Companies (and society) are starting to pick up on that, and understand the benefits. I’m talking about literally taking a little break from your day-to-day, normal life. Most people don’t consider this to be important. But I think it’s one of the most important things in the world!!!

Most people find compelling, wonderful, elaborate reasons why they can’t do something.

Are you one of these people?

Rant over 🙂 But I’m not giving up on this!

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