To set the stage, I spent the last 23 years busting my ass to claw my way to the top in media, a male-dominated, relentlessly competitive and bitchy industry. When I left, I was burned out, disillusioned and a little bit hollow. So, I started goofing off. Like really goofing off.
And I have no regrets. Here are some thoughts on a cocktail napkin regarding the topic of goofing off.
Lesson 1: Goofing off is really fun, but it takes some getting used to.
Turns out I am much better at goofing off than I ever imagined because I have never let myself goof off. So it took some getting used to.
For example, after I left my job, I continued to sit at my computer every morning starting at 6:30 am and for two weeks, I waited for emails, which dwindled to a trickle. It was a really weird habit I didn’t even know I had: Wait for emails at 6:30 am. So stupid.
Besides, those emails eventually dried up.
I became bored with myself and started doing the unthinkable: Leaving the office during the day. Whoa. Sledding, skiing, movies and doing things that make me smile while the sun is still out. I took a bold step and even started reading books about history and not business. It was an awakening. It became a habit to walk away from the computer. Sometimes for days. I highly recommend this, by the way. You never know the burden of something until it’s gone.
Takeaway: Goofing off is a really good move for the soul, less so for, you know, things like cash flow. Also, probably better to get these kinds of yayas out a little earlier in one’s career. Oh well. I am unapologetically free spirited for now (READ: unemployed ski bum).
Lesson 2: You become the most present version of yourself you will ever be during a “goof off” phase.
And your brain starts to work and rewire in different, more positive way. This is where it starts to get cool.
After about the second month of goofing-off-dom, something magical happened. Ideas started flowing out of my cerebral cortex. Like falling out of my brain. Ideas about businesses and films and books and whoa. These ideas were mine. They were creative.
But, more importantly, I let these ideas flow because I was learning to let myself have confidence outside of a boardroom and without a boss. I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t anxious. I was goofing off and it was exciting and made me feel alive.
Takeaway: When you are at your most comfortable and happy, the “creativity deal flow” happens. See? I just made that term up because… why not? Rules no longer apply.
Lesson 3: Goofing off is not a sustainable business model. I know this.
Look, I know this not something I can do forever. Nor do I want to. I think the message is this: Let yourself goof off — even if it’s for a day or an hour. Do something that make you smile. You will be amazed at what happens when you step away from structure. And even more amazed when you step away from the prison of email.
I am now working on a return to structure, but will do so cautiously and this time with a much more self-aware goal in my career — taking special care to balance a 3-pronged philosophy: the “occasional goof-off-er, creative, life balancing” entrepreneur.
Whatever I become or decide to do, I will always make time for goofing off.