A Workaholic's Summer Off

at 12:35 AM

This summer I'm embracing an opportunity that I've long considered and one that nearly everyone I talk with covets.  I'm taking the summer off.

After decades of 12-plus hour days, I am reclaiming my life. When I told my co-workers about my plan, I was surprised that many had taken significant time off and said it was one of the best decisions of their lives.

But when you've spent decades in overdrive, it's not easy to do time off well. I've felt guilty for shopping at Safeway at 1:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, wildly wondering what I was doing there, who all these other people were and why they weren't working.  I've worried over how to relax and how productive I should be.

So, my fellow workaholics, here's how I'm getting off the treadmill, at least temporarily.  Maybe some of these ideas will work for you.

First, I had to detox. I've skated by on as little as 4 to 6 hours of sleep per night for years.  I'm catching up on the sleep I missed, eating well and exercising - and I feel the difference.

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I'm exploring my world.  I have a long list of home projects that I'm doing slowly.  But I'm prioritizing time to re-discover my own backyard from Bodega Bay to the Berkeley hills and to hike the Inca Trail.

I know this is a great time to plan career options, but I'm resisting the urge to dive right in. I've inverted my former work life balance of 90 percent work/10 percent life - and when the 10 percent work part is done, I stop. And in that 90 percent available for life, I want to achieve at least one dream. For you, that could be studying photography, volunteering or finally getting that puppy.  For me, it means finding my writing voice and learning Spanish.

Sometimes I obsess about wasting this opportunity because I can't relax, or I panic that a day has gone by and I've accomplished nothing. In the end, though, I've learned that some days making progress is as simple as doing something you love with or for someone you love.

With a Perspective, I'm Paula Reinman.

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Paula Reinman is an East Bay marketing executive.

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