I've never had a gap between employment in my life, not since I started "official" employment, beyond the neighborhood babysitting gigs, at the ripe age of 15 1/2 where I started as an eager ice-cream scooper at Haagen Dazs. I knew I was destined for great things, strapping on that apron and setting up the very very analog cash register, a dedicated smile plastered to my face. Work feels important, necessary, and like an accomplishment that's hard to achieve elsewhere, and I've always clung to it. 

I'm four days into my work escape, focusing on studying for my next career move, readying myself to start a new consulting endeavor tomorrow and continue my job search. It's been a weird four days, and here's what I've learned: 

  1. Time off should be productive. Okay, yeah, no shit; but seriously, it needs to be, and it should have diligent purpose. Day one for me was vegging and inhaling that Spring air very deeply. It felt weird and sad. Assessing my last couple of years' accomplishments and failures, opportunities won and lost. Days 2-4? I've been: 
    • Re-engaging my online presence. I used to pride myself in my personal brand, and even coach others on it. I need to practice what I preach and it's a fun exercise in self-discovery remembering or learning what your brand's purpose is. What are you interested in these days, and what do you care about? How do you want that activity and purpose to exemplify who you are, as witnessed by others? 
    • Talking to people I respect. Talking to people when you have a free mind, not intending to partner with them or work them into your current role needs, is liberating and inspiring. 
    • Investing in Tech Ladies. I've signed on this week as the Regional Events Organizer for the City Organizer program, and it's been fun just ramping up my learning on all the things these amazing women are doing in their cities. Passion projects are so so valuable and reinvigorating. 
    • Snuggling pupsicles, a lot. My furry friends have never gotten so much love, and I seriously wish there were a job of stay at home dog mom. Someone tell me there is. 
  2. Reading is fun. Say what?! I never have time to read (or, at the very least, never have the luxury of putting things out of my mind so I can focus on reading), and I've been reading a ton these few days. Mostly to ready myself for my next endeavor, and brush up on industry standards I have less time to explore when I'm working. I want this to be a practice that continues during my work life, I need to spend more time researching. There's something in me that always felt like reading and doing research on best practices felt like stealing time away from productivity, but I'm finding that sufficient "down time" to keep me invested in action when I'm not reading. Reading might be a better addition to my Pomodoro practices than online shopping. Just maybe. 
  3. I am valuable and good at what I do. A lot of people have reached out with some really humbling words about my value on teams, folks I've worked with in the past and am currently(-ish) working with. I think everyone should re-work their resume annually, just so they can sit and meditate on the things they've accomplished. Relish in the victories, recognize the unfinished projects, and set some goals for this year's additions. That's really encouraging and helpful when I'm searching through roles, exploring opportunities where Imposter Syndrome could seep in. Conversations with trusted professionals has curbed those feelings I had day 1, and has helped me hone in on what I really want to be doing next, and what value I can bring to a team so I can knock it out of the park. 
  4. Mad Men is really a great show. It's surprisingly helpful when thinking through how to treat people, design organizations, and empower leadership (aka a lot of not-to-dos in Mad Men). Binge watch it, it's on Netflix. 

This whole exercise has made me realize I think we all need to inject time off like this in our regular career cadence. Retreat quarterly and do a deep dive on your intentions, motivations, accomplishments, and goals. Detach yourself from the day to day to focus on innovating on yourself. I think I'll be much better as a teammate and leader if I keep this up, so I'm going to work on it.

These few days might have been a bit too ambitious, I bought four new digital books today ... so time to get to werk!