Taking the Time to Find Gifts in the Every Day


Beautiful Sunset on the Boat

I’ve had several reminders this week about the importance of taking time in life for things that are not work, whether it be hobbies, spending time with others, exploring the world around us, or just taking it easy.

During a run yesterday to prep for the San Antonio Rock & Roll Half Marathon (which is just under a month away), I listened to this Stanford Entreprenurial Thought Leaders Seminar episode featuring Dr. Matthew Rabinowitz. He has built several impressive businesses, and told his story with great examples and engaging dialogue. Something he emphasized was not putting yourself on a pedestal, and being sure to leave time in your life for friendships and taking a break, at least once a week. He also said he takes an hour each morning to meditate, and that he is a much more agreeable, fun person to be around as a result.

I was part of a peer mentoring session, and in getting feedback about the business I am building, I was asked how I am spending my time and energy. I said that in the times when I am busy, and probably trying to do too many things, I find myself getting back on the computer after dinner and before bed. This doesn’t give my mind much time to take a break, and though I may be checking things off my to do list, it’s probably not my most productive time.
I had lunch with someone who works in leadership development and coaching. She and I talked about my own career, as well as career progressions and challenges for women specifically. While she said it varies by company, she has found in more male dominated cultures, women who do make it to upper management tend to be very hard on themselves, and have set up their own rigorous rules about the time and energy they devote to work. This is probably also true of many men in upper management of organizations, but it reminded me of the danger of getting so sucked it in work that it controls and defines everything else.

I think I do a good job of having non-work things in my life, but as I was thinking about it and watching myself more carefully the last week, I realized that I’m not always 100% present during the non-work activities. So, I’m trying to catch myself when I go to pick up my phone to check email, or when my mind starts to wander instead of appreciating the moment that I’m in. And, I’m giving myself little ‘gifts’ along the way – small moments or things out of the ordinary, to help me better appreciate the variety and pleasure in life. Some examples from the last few days.

  • My husband and I went out on our boat just before sunset Saturday night. We stayed out a bit longer than planned, and were gifted with a beautiful glow along the Pacific as we made our way in to the marina.
  • I went to Trader Joe’s to buy many pumpkin items, after getting the Fearless Flyer in the email and being reminded that this is the time of year to get pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin butter, pumpkin chai latte (they are all really good). I don’t like going to Trader Joe’s because it’s crowded, the aisles are small, and the other shoppers are usually rude, at least in Santa Monica. But I decided to make it an experiment this time, and actually take the time to look people in the eye when they are trying to get around me or reach for the goat cheese spread. And, I actually got several smiles, and a few short conversations. And for me – I drove away in a decent mood, rather than being annoyed.
  • I got a mani/pedi at the place I usually go to once a month, and instead of telling them I just want my fingers to be ‘clear’ because I usually chip my nails, I went with red nail polish. And it still looks good 4 days later, even after cleaning the house some today!

Maybe these aren’t the most exciting examples of taking a bit more time and effort to enjoy the little things in life, but it has made for a fun and more interesting last few days. I’m looking forward to the new ‘gifts’ I can discover this week.

About Tamra Johnson

I’m an entrepreneur and a recent MBA graduate from UCLA Anderson. I have 10 years of experience in IT Management and Systems Engineering. I love learning, helping others, exploring the world around me, running at the beach, going to concerts, and visiting family and friends. I grew up in Helotes, Texas, went to undergrad in Cambridge, MA, and now live in Venice, CA.
This entry was posted in Ambition, Entrepreneur, Family, Flexible, Networks, Resources, Startup, Technology, Women, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Taking the Time to Find Gifts in the Every Day

  1. Vanita says:

    As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.’ ~Buddha

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