How much do you have to work, why does business stain, what happens on Fish Day, what does the symbol of workaholics look like, and how to figure out what you are - a jellyfish or a shark?
Recently Fish Day appeared in my life, and it turned out to be one of the best gifts that I have ever received in my life.
Paradoxically, this precious thing that I always missed was right under my nose. I passed by very often, 52 times a year. And every time I didn’t pay attention to it. Until one day, when I exclaimed:
Wow, it’s so simple and so cool!
I would like to share my experience with you. Maybe this will help you stop, put your situation into perspective, and change something.
Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow
When I was twenty-five, I knew one thing for sure – I need to work hard to be successful. How much is this „much”? It’s simple. Voloshin’s number of working hours per day was calculated by the formula:
Working hours = 24 hours – time for sleep – time for eating – time for going to the toilet
I worked almost non-stop. Friends, girlfriends, hobbies were left behind (my hobby – work – remained, though). I even slept at my desk in a 12-square-meter room. Two steps to work and two steps back to bed.
A few years passed and I founded a company, but this aggravated the problem. I still worked seven days a week for 12-14 hours a day. By the time I got home around 11 o’clock in the evening, I was already squeezed like a lemon and tired to death. I don’t even know how my wife resisted this period, when she saw her “sugar sunshine” only a few minutes a day – at sunrise and sunset. And when “sunshine” was at home, he could not warm her, and at noon, all the heat and ardor would go to work, projects and colleagues.
My wheel of life would be the perfect logo for the Anonymous Workaholics Club.
This continued for a couple of years. Fortunately for me, my wife did not leave me, on the contrary, she gave birth to our daughter. And I had to make a sound decision. This is how our family got a day off – Sunday. Yes, that’s right. I stopped going to work one day a week. It was a great progress and at first I didn’t even know what to do with this odd day when I didn’t have to rush anywhere in the morning. But you get used to the good things pretty quickly, that’s why I was looking forward to the end of the week, to spend Sunday with my family.
It took off from there. Around 2007, at a corporate party, I announced that from that day on, Saturday would be a day off for those working at Simpals company!
And I got a big round of applause! Now my weekend had become huge – I didn’t have to work for almost a quarter of a week. So cool! Although I worked 12 hours a day during the week, I came home late, apologizing that there were fewer working days and that I had to do everything on time.
Now I was home on the weekends and I could go out with my family. That’s when our family traditions started, sort of eating out on Saturday morning and going to movies on Sundays. That’s when I thought for the first time that a cheerful child you hold in your arms is no worse than watching the traffic growth curve on your website, and maybe even better. Anyways, work came first.
The dead end
Five more years have passed. And for the first time in a while, I felt sick. Work overwhelmed me so much that I came to a dead end. I was suffering from depression spiced up with first degree obesity, hypertension and a very tense relationship with my wife.
If there were an Anonymous Workaholics Club, I would be appreciated every day with applause by the so-called “colleagues”, to whom I would tell about how such a heavy work schedule lowers efficiency, raises blood pressure and “helps” you accumulate stress.
By then I was already the owner of a large online business and I allowed myself to stop working. But I couldn’t just “sit and do nothing”, because working means giving life to ideas, a sort of game, creating and blah-blah-blah, as for many of us. But still, I thought there was no point in working, because I didn’t see any change for the better …
I sat on the edge of my life, grabbed my head with my hands and stared at one point, taking a sip from a bottle from time to time. Six months passed like that, and I sank deeper and deeper into the swamp of meaninglessness, until one day I came across the story of an ordinary man who became an “Ironman”. I realized that was my path, I pulled myself out of the swamp, put on my running shoes, and away we go!
I went in for sports so zealously and with such dedication that the family was no longer happy – I used to spend less time at work. But I also spent less time with family. Now all my free time was devoted to training, and all thoughts were about contests. Work came second, and family third. Friends were gone. That’s how my loved ones lost me again. And I found “another job”.
Seven years of pain, defeat, victory and overcoming have passed. Sport pulled me out of the swamp of depression, but didn’t pull me out of the squirrel wheel. When the period of marathons and ironmen ended, I got back to work. It’s true, I had become an iron man. But in my absence my business stopped growing. It was necessary to join in and work.
“I have to” vs. “I want to”
Back to work, I realized that I could not work for 12 hours a day as before. Nor 10, neither 8 hours. Even six hours of negotiation and solving ordinary tasks had the effect of a drop of nicotine on a pony – I was dying of fatigue.
By then, I already realized that I did not want to deal with operational activities. And thanks to my great team, I was able to set up the business mechanism. Thus, all I had to do was what I liked and what I was very good at – visionary work, generating new ideas, attracting new people and partners.
However, I realized too well that I had a family in which I had to invest time, energy and emotions, as in my career. And I realized I didn’t rest properly at home either. I turned as a squirrel in a wheel – home, work, rarely friends. I often wanted to disconnect from everything, to be alone, to think about who I am, where I’m going, what I want to do. So, what was I supposed to do?
– Go to other countries for a week? I’d miss my kids, wife and friends.
– Not go to work? Dangerous for business and boring to sit doing nothing.
– Spend evenings with friends? My family wouldn’t understand.
– Stay home all day? I’d turn into a caretaker.
I was stuck. I began to feel the hand of the ubiquitous “Have to” squeeze my neck again. But my friend “I want to” materialized on the other shoulder, leaned over and whispered softly to me:
– Dimon, don’t worry and take another day off a week!
Geez, of course! But then what day would that be?
Why Thursday? It’s simple – when you sit at home on Thursday, then in fact on Wednesday you have your last working day, and the week seems to be split in two. And on weekdays you work more efficiently so that everything can be done on time.
And everything seemed to be fine, but for some reason it wasn’t. I spent three days a week with my family, immersed in household chores. The days went by unnoticed, and I didn’t feel much change. I didn’t have much work to do, but I loaded my brain with other things. It wasn’t my day off – it was another day I dedicated to my family.
And one Thursday I had to go to the vacation home to fix something there.
For seven years now I’ve had my own wooden house at the edge of the forest. This is a log house with a thatched roof, a Russian sauna, a pond and a Japanese ofuro under a wide-branching oak. At the edge of the forest there is peace, silence and fresh air. I often went there with family or friends on the weekends. We bathed in the sauna, swam, walked or lay in a hammock.
When I arrived there and got out of the car, I was surprised by the thought that came to me:
I have to spend Thursdays right here at the vacation home.
That day I realized that the best rest for me is the time I spend alone. I needed my own day off, a small birthday, when I could do whatever I wanted without being disturbed by anything.
A restart day. A day of deep diving. Like a small fish that hid at the bottom of the ocean during a storm. That’s how my day off came – Fish Day.
Here are the rules I follow on my Fish Day:
– I only do what I want.
– I don’t spend this day at home or at work.
– I get no calls, except for emergencies: office on fire or one of the kids missing.
– I meditate early in the morning, then I run to my holiday home.
– All alone, I heat the sauna, heat a barrel of water, walk through the yard, breathe fresh forest air. I dream, I generate ideas, I try to be aware of everything.
– I eat everything my soul demands, and it usually longs for sweets 🙂
– I write stories, fairy tales, posts, easily entering a flow state.
– In the evening, friends come there, bathe in the sauna, drink tea and discuss new ideas, argue, troll each other, complain about illness and old age, sing songs and cook something.
– We only have fish for dinner. It’s Thursday, after all, and it’s Fish Day 🙂
– But the main thing on this day is not dinner, nor friends, neither the sauna. The main thing is to stop, catch your breath and realize where to go next.
Those at work know that Thursday is the day I take care of my main task, for which the company still tolerates me. I generate new ideas, I try to look at the business from the outside, revealing its shortcomings and tracing a path for our ship. For example, I noticed that every week I come up with at least one new startup idea.
And my family understand that daddy will return tomorrow full of vital energy to spend the weekend in full contact with his loved ones, dedicating himself entirely to the family. In the meantime, I miss my children and my dear wife, so I really feel their importance in my life.
You may laugh as you read my story, saying the guy has a business and can afford not to work at all, but what about me – I don’t have my own business?
Here are some ideas:
– You can have half a Fish Day on Saturday (6 hours a week)
– Start waking up at 5 am and get two hours a day (or 12 hours a week) of personal time
– Find a job with short business trips
– Agree with your employer about one day off instead of a 10-hour working day
– Just try to use your time efficiently, not spend it on social media or unwise work.
In short, dive deep more often, friends. After all, only where it is quiet and serene, where you don’t owe anything to anyone, where you belong only to yourself, you can understand who you really are – a goldfish, a jellyfish, a shark or … a bathyscaphe.
PS: If you’re done with reading this and realized that you don’t need such a day, it means that you don’t need a day like that yet. It means that you are now living in that period when your bed and your workplace are one step away. Enjoy it now, and later you’ll enjoy your Fish Day. That day will definitely come. And then you will feel like a small fish, at the bottom of the ocean, watching the storm from underwater.