What I Learned On My Summer Vacation: Part II

In my previous blog post, I talked about the first lesson I learned as I spent some time reflecting on life during my family’s recent vacation: Do less and do it better. Today, I want to focus on the second lesson I learned: The most valuable to-do on my list is to contemplate.

Lesson 2: Contemplation is the most important thing on my to-do list

The “Information Age” has its tentacles all over modern life. Often, I give into the temptation to engage with more and more (and more!) of it. If I am not careful, every moment is filled with input. 

For example, I recently did an inventory of “inputs” throughout my day. By “inputs,” I mean anything that my mind is engaging with, ranging from learning all the way to entertainment. 

Here is a quick synopsis: 

5 a.m.: Got up / prayer journal / Bible reading 

5:30 a.m.: Listen to leadership podcast 

6: a.m. -7:30 a.m.: Work out / listen to music (don’t worry, I’m not one of those people at the gym — I used my AirPods!) 

7:30-8:00 a.m.: Commute / more podcast or audiobook

8-12: Mostly work, but inputs via email (newsletters, news emails, etc.) 

Lunch: More audiobook time 

1-5 p.m.: Mostly work, inputs via email at times (responses, etc.) 

5 p.m.: Sports radio on home commute 

6:30 p.m.: Listened to audiobook while stretching 

7:15-8 p.m.: watched sports with boys 

8:15-9:30 p.m.: After praying with Sarah, we watched a Mad Men episode 

Are you judging my day right now, or is that just my insecurity? Kidding aside, did you notice how much time I spent in my day I spent on “thinking”? 

Very little! 

Okay, so I thought during those times of work. But still, it was not planned. 

Here is a quote that floored me a few years ago but I have (so far) failed to fully put into practice: 

“We waste our time with short-term thinking and busywork. Warren Buffett spends a year deciding and a day acting. The act lasts decades.” Naval Ravikant

If I’m honest with myself, when I look at the day I described above, it’s clear there was a lot of busy work. Even things like audiobooks — which are not necessarily “good or bad” — can become busy work when I am not careful. 

I have learned that I need to schedule the time to think and be quiet. I know that “scheduling” such a time demonstrates how type-A I am, but I am what I am. If I do not schedule this time, it won’t happen. 

The reward for scheduling the time is that my life will take on more meaning. I will be able to think through what really matters. I will be able to prioritize rather than react. I can even anticipate things, all because I have spent time thinking. 

Perhaps, the most important thing you need to do in the next week is to carve out two hours to be alone. I know that you think you do not have the time, but you too can do less, better. Invest two hours just to be quiet and think. 

I am not guaranteeing that something magical will happen because it does not always happen for me. But I can share that the more time I spend being quiet and thinking, the better my life has become. 

The next post I will write comes from a recent time I spent thinking and reflecting about the vacation we took — the vacation that sparked this post and my previous one. Specifically, I wanted to figure out why I felt reenergized after our out-West vacation but didn’t feel that same rejuvenation after our last beach vacation? 

More on that next time.