Sam Soffes

Taking a Break

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A few weeks ago, I took three weeks off. I’m really fortunate that I had the flexibility and opportunity to do this. Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and burnt out at work. I really wanted a break.

I planned to do a 165 mile hike around Lake Tahoe but ended up only doing 40 miles there and then about 40 miles in Joshua Tree. (Check out those links for some photos.) Before leaving, I changed all of my work passwords and locked my work computer in my desk at work. While I was out, I couldn’t access my work accounts even if I wanted to. I forced myself to disconnect.

At first, this was really difficult. I thought about work often on my first few days of my hike. It was mostly bitter and frustrated thoughts. Each day, I thought about it less and less. Instead I started focused on the beautiful scenery and just enjoying the nature around me.

By the time I was back, my entire perspective had shifted. What seemed like huge problems at work that I would obsess about after hours didn’t seem to matter as much any more. Having some space from the work problems really helped me understand what their place should be in my head.

I also learned most of my problems were caused by me. After having some space from things, it was easy to see that my own attitude and perception of the problem was a bigger problem than the problem. Instead of being frustrated by thing X and obsessing over “Gosh X is so bad! Why won’t someone do something about X?!” it was much easier to shift to either “Well X is just how things are. That’s unfortunate, but I need to accept this and figure out how to work around it.” or “Maybe I can do something about X. Let me try some things.”

A few months ago, I was starting to get this. I realized then that acceptance is a sometimes a key aspect of dealing with problems. During my break, I realized that almost all of my problems I could actively help with if I just took a moment, thought about it constructively, and then tried to help move things forward.

All of this to say, things at work aren’t terrible. My attitude towards things was my biggest problem. It’s funny that even when someone told me this, I couldn’t hear it while I was mixed up in it day to day. Having space to step back and really think about it while not being stressed about all of the day to day things was what I really needed.

I wanted to capture these thoughts for Future Sam. It’s important to take a break and put things into perspective. I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to this. Here’s to getting better.