This is a journal entry I originally wrote on January 6, 2012. I recently re-discovered it and realized it includes so much of what has helped us be successful, not only in our finances, but in life. I’ve chosen to post it as originally written, only removing family names and personal information where necessary.
Have you ever tried to do nothing? I mean literally nothing. It’s really hard. So hard that many of us quit trying somewhere after college.
And that’s unfortunate.
We’ve become such an adept society of something doers that we often get so enamored with doing things that we can forget why we’re doing them in the first place.
Sometimes we even neglect facts that indicate something we’re doing may not even be the right thing to do anymore.
So for a change, let’s take a moment and see how well we can do nothing. Consider this your practice test.
Click here. (It will open in a new tab. Go ahead. Practice.)
Screw This! I Have Stuff To Do.
If you’re like me, trying to do nothing for two minutes is nearly impossible. It feels stupid. It feels like wasting time. And after about 18 seconds my brain screams “Screw this! I have stuff to do.”
It’s true. I actually do have stuff to do, and getting many of those things on my ever-growing list done is important – not just to me but to many folks around me as well.
But somewhere in the back of my head is this little voice that is always questioning if I’m really working on the right things, the most important things – things that will really matter 5, 10 or 15 years from now?
Or am I just knocking off trivial to-do items because…well…I like the endorphins my brain releases when I check things off a list?We are so saturated with TV, movies and the internet that we trade boredom for distraction.Click To Tweet
Wanna Get Away?
It was these kinds of thoughts that prompted my wife and I to institute what we call our Annual Silent Retreat. It’s not an official thing, it’s just a few days to get away from all the daily tasks, non-stop noise and easy distractions that assault us each day, turning us into little taskmasters and distraction junkies.
This is not a vacation.
It is not a 3 day, 4-night all-inclusive Caribbean excursion.
Those are vacations and are very important. But this is definitely something different.
The only rules for our silent retreats are:
- no TV
- no Internet
- no iPad or cell phone
- and as much as feasibly possible, no talking. (Really. No talking.)
Space for thinking and dreaming is the ultimate goal. And what we discovered is that when we eliminated all of the noise and distractions, we had better be prepared for some pretty intense time with our brain.
Oh, and we do our silent retreats separately. We’ve found that when we’re together we are often really wonderful (or not so wonderful) distractions for each other.
So when my wife goes, I’ll take time off work and stay home with the kids. And when I go, she stays home with the kids.
Thinking is Golden
I went on my first silent retreat 3 years ago. I decided on tent camping at a secluded 140-acre campground along the Colorado River that we discovered years ago.
We liked this place because it was never crowded, so it seemed like a perfect spot for some R&R and introspection.
And this time was no different.
In fact, I soon discovered I was the only one there. I walked for miles along the riverbank without seeing another soul, and truly felt like I was the only person on the planet.
And that was actually kind of perfect.
Without the normal distractions of TV, movies, the web, or even kids or a spouse, I discovered my brain went into overdrive trying to fill the void.
I thought about everything: my entire to-do list at work, my even longer to-do list at home, every single event coming up in the next few weeks and even things I had forgotten to do yesterday or last week.
Then I shifted into conversations that I needed to have at work, and at home, and with my parents and family, and I had every single one of those conversations right there in my head. (They’re so much easier to have in my head.)
See why this isn’t just a typical vacation. It’s a lot harder – and a lot more meaningful.