A colleague recently took some much needed time off after a long stretch of intense development work. Something he said resonated, “I took so much time off, I actually wanted to get back to work”. This is not to say either of us dislike our job, but it can definitely be hard, draining work.
This sentiment reminded me of a concept from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, namely Gumption:
Gumption is the psychic gasoline that keeps the whole thing going. If you haven’t got it, there’s no way the motorcycle can possibly be fixed. But if you have got it and know how to keep it, there’s absolutely no way in this whole world that motorcycle can keep from getting fixed. It’s bound to happen. Therefore the thing that must be monitored at all times and preserved before anything else is the gumption.
There is a broader elaboration on Gumption Traps in the book worth reading, but in this brief look, I just wanted to capture and emphasize the relation I noticed between Time Off and Gumption.
Time Off doesn’t just serve as a chance to grant more attention to your personal life than usually permitted in a normal work week. It ideally also fulfills the role of refueling gumption. You will know Time Off has worked if you find yourself motivated to return. If you feel your psychic gas tank adequately filled. With this in mind, beware a half assed, not quite disconnected Time Off lest you return without the filled tank you need to commit to Excellence in your work.
Does this change your mindset about what Time Off means? Is the concept of Gumption helpful in this context?