For the last week and a half, I’ve had a hard time sleeping. My mind’s been racing and my body has been seized by the constant dull pang of anxiety.
It’s not hard to identify the general cause of my insomnia. Things have been getting really busy lately.
Work for my classes is starting to ramp up. The impending podcast launch has added a lot of new tasks. Rehearsals for my new play started recently, and I’ve been in the thick of auditions and callbacks for other shows. And on top of that, there are just the everyday tasks that I seem to always be behind on — doing laundry, going grocery shopping, taking the car in for an oil change.
The anxiety is different from when I was working. There’s no dread of starting each day nor is there a complete lack of excitement for the upcoming tasks. It’s more like frustration that I don’t have the time and energy to get everything done that I want to and fear that I’m not going to do my best work for the day’s tasks.
I, of course, did this to myself. When I decided to start this sabbatical, I feared I would fall into a rut and just sit home watching TV all day. So, I came up with a plan and immediately took on a lot of projects. As the months have gone by, I’ve taken on more and more.
First, there are the career exploration projects. Currently, that consists of the two interior design classes I’m taking. And to a certain extent, my work on the podcast, some of my video work, and even this blog are contributing to this discovery of new potential career paths.
Secondly, I also wanted to take advantage of this freed-up schedule to dedicate more of my time and energy to the creative projects I’m passionate about or new ones I want to pursue. Lately, that has manifested in more auditions and taking on challenging roles. It has also meant a lot more creative writing.
But the problem is, I’ve set all of these pursuits at the same priority level, and I find myself pushing myself 100%, seven days a week.
It is physical and emotionally exhausting and mentally addling.
So, I’ve decided I need to take a step back and identify some changes:
Schedule Time and Days Off
Based on the projects I’ve taken on, my weekends tend to be packed. However, even though it’s been a few months since I’ve worked a Monday-Friday job, I still have that lingering mindset that weekdays should be productive work days. That means I’ll find tasks to do and other projects to fill up my weekdays, even if I just spend the previous weekend working.
Starting now, I’m going to go through my calendar and try to identify 1-2 days a week when I don’t do any work and can just recharge.
Don’t Say Yes to Everything
Like many in my generation, I often experience major FOMO (fear of missing out), and so I find myself taking on any and all opportunities that come my way.
Moving forward, I’m going to carefully question and consider each project and opportunity that presents itself. Am I going to grow from this experience? Is this going to add to my skill set? Is this going to help me learn something new?
Prioritize My Existing Projects
As I mentioned earlier, I feel like I’ve put my various projects on equal footing, meaning I feel obligated to tackle them all as soon as possible and throw all my energy into them. It’s been draining and a bit discombobulating. And really, it’s been counterproductive because there is no way I can give 100% to all of these projects simultaneously, which means the quality of my work has suffered.
Moving forward, I’m going to pick one or two broad projects that are my main priority for that week or day.
Within my sabbatical career exploration, I’m going to try to focus on one or two careers at any given time rather than bouncing around all nine. So, right now, that will be my interior design classes.
Similarly, for my creative pursuits, I will prioritize one or two above the rest.
Lastly, I need to change my mindset and expectations around how much I should get done and what I should accomplish. That means, it’s okay if I can’t get to tasks that are lower priority. It’s not the end of the world if I publish a blog post a day late. I have every right to say “no” to something because I don’t have the bandwidth or it doesn’t interest me.
Even when I was working, I was my harshest critic and set the highest expectations for myself. This sabbatical stemmed from a desire to live a more energizing and fulfilling life. It’s good to check my compass every now to make sure I’m not slipping back into the direction of anxiety and drain.