Got Too Much Time on Your Hands?

Being alone in your own head can be a little disquieting.

Posted Sep 18, 2019

Over the years there have been times when I thought that things were going too slow. Business may have been down, the phone wasn’t ringing much, and I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed—and this was the weirdest part: I didn’t like it.

I remember once having a nearly blank week in my calendar, and instead of being joyful at the prospect of some time to spend with my loved ones, I worried that I’d never work again. That kind of worry is not uncommon, but it’s certainly unnecessary. Pretty much every time I have had fewer commitments, one of two things has always come up. Stuff came from out of the blue that required the majority of my attention or else I really needed to rest and just wouldn’t let myself.

If you are used to being constantly active and mentally challenged, and it stops abruptly, you can feel uncomfortably out of control. Most people just try pedaling faster, which can bring relief in the short term, but is this what you are really being called to do? It would be better to stop and take this moment to look at your whole life and see what may need tending to. It may be you.

Highly creative and driven people seldom give themselves a break, and if a problem emerges, they continue at the same pace and just add the new issue to their current stack. The result is that they usually miss out on something important.

We have all overdone it, mentally and physically, but it’s much easier to see it when our body is ailing. Many of us have gone beyond our physical limits at some point and ended up needing bed rest. Only then, after spending some time healing, do we learn not to push so hard—at least at that particular activity.

But what about when your sense of direction is put on hold for other reasons? Blaming yourself is almost a natural place to go. My advice is to stop those unhelpful thoughts and focus on yourself and your current needs. Be in the moment and you will likely find better places to put your energy.

When you have the time to take care of yourself or someone near and dear to you, use it wisely, because that extra time will not last. If you are someone who has always figured life out, that won’t go away. You just have to find the next path, and you will.

Maybe you’ve taken an early retirement, decided to follow your bliss, or gotten laid off, and you’re not adjusting to it very well. That’s understandable, but if you have been lying on the couch waiting for the phone to ring and feeling sorry for yourself, you are wasting the most precious commodity you have—your time.

Research shows that people who are unemployed or underemployed are on average in better physical shape than those who work full time. Being between projects is not the end of your world but rather a chance to take care of yourself and those you love. Use it.