For the last two weeks I was on annual leave. I used my leave to work 18 hour days on my startup. Oddly enough, I feel refreshed and energised going back to my regular job.
I wonder how this can be possible. I’m not convinced that it was the actual work keeping me motivated – a lot of it was really monotonous. It wasn’t the fact that I felt energised being my own boss either. To be honest I often feel like a bit of a pest! It would have been far easier to not turn up at all to the surgery I’m piloting my software in. Building a startup is really soul destroying sometimes because no one wants you to cause a ruckus and do anything new (however I must admit that seeing that you’re having a positive impact, no matter how small really does give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside).
I’ve always felt wistful after having a holiday. That “holiday feeling” really is a special kind of feeling. It makes you feel “light” and carefree. But this last holiday made me realise that we don’t get this feeling because of going abroad on expensive vacations. It’s not a result of experiencing new cultures or trying exotic food either. As I didn’t experience any of this on my leave, it stands to reason that it’s actually our own thought processes and our own on going internal monologue to blame for not being able to always feel this way.
When I was driving to work after my leave I was stuck in traffic as usual. I couldn’t help but notice how every other driver on the road looked tired, fed up and worried. I’m sure they were all pretty much thinking the same thing as one another. They were probably worried about getting to work on time, or thinking of the tasks that they had to complete that day. I started to think that it would be really interesting to do an audit on peoples thought processes for a week or a month. I bet that the average person essentially thinks of the same things every day, month after month, year after year.
I bet most people wake up in the morning, get worried because they slept in for too long, worry about work while they’re in the shower, think about the days chores while on their commute, go on autopilot while at work, when they finish work they think about food, picking up their children, grocery shopping and what’s on TV. I think these few thoughts are 90% of the thoughts most people experience every day. As a result I think it’s only when people go on holiday that they allow themselves to experience new thoughts, new sensations and actually feel somewhat alive.
My theory is that you can capture that “holiday feeling” and hang on to it, if you just allow yourself to think of different things. Just allowing yourself to be present in the moment and being open to new experiences and sensations is probably all that is needed. Reading books is a good way of doing this as they constantly expose you to new ideas, as is meeting new people.
Perhaps this is why people who have interesting work don’t ever require a holiday – the constant barrage of new thoughts and possibilities is exhilarating. Conversely, perhaps this is also the reason why people who are millionaires but don’t continue to work become depressed and hopeless.