To Go or Not To Go

December 22, 2000

Today is the last work day before the Christmas holiday. Originally I had planned on working a full day, 8-5. I am taking an extra day off after Christmas that my client doesn't. So I've got a nice 4-day weekend for the holiday in front of me.

My wife called a while ago and suggested that I might take off early and we could go to lunch and then just play. We'd get an early start on our plans. On the surface this sounds like a great idea but it brought up a whole raft of issues that I need to sort through.

I don't do spontaneity well. Heck, I have a hard time saying the word. If we are out and about on a Saturday and my wife suggests a trip to a neighboring city I have a very hard time allowing that to happen. It is as if I get up in the morning and decide right then what I am going to do that day. If I get up knowing that we are going to travel then I am fine with it and enjoy myself. But if we weren't planning on a trip then I react to it's suggestion with a surprising resistance.

Today this issue is about letting myself take time off from work. I am an independent contractor and therefore I don't get paid if I don't work. This really isn't the issue but it is a convenient starting place. As we say in my house, it's a great avoidance.

Beyond that initial avoidance is a fear of approval. In my current situation I want the approval of my client and I feel that staying here and working a full day is the way to gain this approval. On the other side of the equation is wanting to please my wife. Taking the afternoon off and spending it with her has the potential to please her greatly, and to be a lot of fun. However, if I take off just to please her, when I privately feel I should be a work, I'll be passive-aggressive all afternoon and that won't be fun for either of us.

It boils down to deciding what my mood and motivation is today. Do I need to be at work to feel good about myself? Or am I staying here just because I think someone else feels I should? If I go home will I be doing that because I truly want to, or will I be doing it to try and gain favor from my wife?

If I do either action solely to gain some outside approval then I have failed the lesson. I am the only person who can truly approve or disapprove of my own actions. People around me can comment on my actions all they want, I control whether I am effected by those comments.

The action (staying at work or taking the afternoon off) isn't the true point here. The true focus is the motivation and emotion behind the action. Being a child of technology (IE a hard science) and a male to boot, focusing on the emotional basis for a decision is not my default approach. Incorporating the emotional side of life is a relatively new thing for me. I like the results when I do it. I feel more balanced. More integrated.

Still it is a new paradigm.

Change sucks.

Well, I've made my decision. Time to act upon it.

Enjoy your holiday....

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.