Author’s note: I wrote this at the beginning of the year and am sharing it a little later in the month. Enjoy!
I write this post having just taken nearly two weeks off for the holidays: no email, no client work, no sitting at my desk. No writing, no paying invoices, no strategizing for the new year. Also: no social media. That last one is important.
We had two sets of friends come into town during this break. One, my best friend and her family, in town from Scotland. Another, newer friends, checking out Portugal as a potential future landing pad for their family. We spent days exploring with both families, and even more days just being together with our family.
We didn’t do anything big—no trip to France to go skiing or even a weekend trip somewhere in Portugal or Spain. We stayed close to home. We went to the beach and hiked and biked. We slept in and ate breakfast together and lazed around the house.
One of my favorite memories was inviting my daughter to “grown up” yoga with me, then inviting her another day to ride her bike next to me while I ran. We made it all the way to the beach by our house and took in the view before heading back. My son and I went on a run-bike ride later that day and had a great time racing each other up and down what we call “the little, quiet road” near our home. And his big request? “Color with me, Mama.” I did, with both kids. And it was lovely.
I also got to hang out with my husband, who I sometimes forget is a great guy. We enjoyed drinking our morning coffee together, sitting on the beach and chatting while the kids played, and generally just getting time together.
I don’t mean to present a picture-perfect holiday, because I’m a mom, and my kids are kids, and marriage is marriage, and we certainly had our moments. But the time. The space. There’s nothing like it. Nothing quite so precious as the time to just be together.
And for me, the mental space was powerful. Here’s what I noticed: taking a break from social media was a very good thing. I read more . . . and even accidentally stayed up until 2 a.m. finishing a novel! I found myself craving music more than podcasts. I daydreamed and thought about my goals. I reassessed some of my plans for 2024 and questioned the why behind my ambitions. And I came into 2024—into today—with a sense of peace and calm that can only be achieved through silence and space.
As I enter 2024, here are some things I want to take with me from that time, and from each time I take a mental and physical break from all the things. I hope they’re helpful for you too.
- Spend 30 minutes every day in complete silence. This could be on a walk, while getting ready for the day, or in meditation. (Not that I’ve ever meditated for more than 10 minutes—but hey, new year, new goals!)
- Limit social media to the 2/11/30 rule: Check social media no more than twice per day, between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., 30 minutes maximum. (Instagram has a handy daily time limit timer that alerts me when I’ve hit my daily max.)
- Start out my mornings with a growth-focused book or journaling. This feels really important—an intentional signal to myself that I am taking my day seriously, with intention.
- Maintain my discretionary time. Don’t check emails or other notifications until 11 a.m. every day. Use the mornings for focus, including writing, client projects, and other deep work.
- Make intentional eye contact with my family every day. This probably seems like an odd one to add to my list, but I’ve noticed during this break how rare it is to sit and really listen, to look at the people I love with my full attention, to not be multitasking while washing the dishes or separating laundry or filling out the field trip permission form.
- Remember this feeling. Space is a beautiful thing, but the peace of time off is often sacrificed in the name of productivity. I believe being present and productivity can coexist. Remembering that principle will be a core focus this year.
That’s it. My list of reflections. What would you add? Share with me below—I love learning from you!