Back in July, I took a month-long gap break after i left my previous firm before starting my new job.
It wasn’t a big decision for me, i had always longed to do it, and the opportunity came along. I didn’t have any vacation trips planned because my daughter’s exams were coming. In my mind, i had a short list of things i wanted to do in the 31 days. Or at least try to do. Like train for my 10K run, read a lot of books, watch all those movies on my HDD, spend time with my family, go to the park with them and play badminton, do my oil and watercolour painting, and eat at my favourite restaurants that i never had time to revisit.
In the course of the 1 month, i can say i achieve a lot of things, and almost all the things in my short list. And i learn some lessons, big and small.
Appreciate and spend time with your children – in a blink of an eye, they will grow up and grow away while you were busy working. Even though i’d like to think i’m a far more involved dad than most parents, there’s a lot more you can learn about your kids. We taught my older girl to ride a bike, i watched my younger learn to climb a tree. I introduced the magic of the Simpsons to them, and ate lots of sushi (now their favorite) with them.
A long vacation at home doesn’t mean you spend a lot – in fact other than the few times we went for Japanese restaurants, we hardly spent any money out of the ordinary. We ate most meals at home (healthily, i might add) and we window shopped. And then, we just sat in MPH and read their books for free.
After the first few days, i got myself into a routine. I woke up at about seven without an alarm clock. Coffee and egg whites. Jog about 6-9km, depending on how blazing hot it was. Come back and shower. Watch a movie when my kids are out. Doze. Paint with oils or watercolour (depending on whether i want to get my hands dirty with turpentine or not). Lunch. Nap. Read a book or do another project. Go to the park with my kids. Dinner. Kids and TV. Read and an early night.
“…but what are you going to DO?” – lots of people just couldn’t grasp my idea of not working voluntarily. When i explained, they immediately replied “Oh, thats good, relax and recharge before starting work…”. Er, but you’re making a wrong assumptions there. No i’m not burnt out from work. I kinda liked my job. I just don’t think it’s all that important in the grand scheme of life. A job is a job is a job. 10 years down the road when i look back to my life, i won’t remember the years i spent writing reports or at the construction site – i’d remember the times i spent with my wife and kids, the weekends, the trips, the vacations, the meals.
And yes, jogging in the pouring rain at 7.30am WILL get you sick.
In the end, i didn’t get to read all that many books – coz most of the time i was busy doing something else. That’s not worrying for me, i read plenty enough all thetime, even when i’m very busy with work.
After the long holiday, and hardly watching any Olympics at all, it was time to dust off the slacks and shirts to start work. Did i dread going back to work? Hardly. Did I look forward to going back to work? Only for the money.