the challenge of “just chilling”


Does anyone know how to “just chill” and “do nothing”? If so, please advise.

For the past 29 years, all I remember is having my fingers and toes in 30+ different pies (which, I guess means some pies only have half a finger). It became a habit and a lifestyle I didn’t question. Actually, I flourished with being busy. I liked being busy and even if I had the chance to sit still to watch a movie on my couch, I’d probably be emailing at the same time. Multi-tasking was my motto – for efficiency, for effectiveness. It was a circular argument, I had so many things to do I had to multi-task, and because I was so good at multi-tasking I can then take up more things to do with the “extra time” I managed to squeeze out.

I sometimes marvel at my own organization skills and planning, that my schedules allow no waste in milliseconds and I allot just the right amount of time for every meeting, task, or social activity. I used to be able to meet different people for pre-dinner drinks, early dinner, then a late dinner, and then after dinner drinks all in one night, then sleep 8 hours and wake up Saturday morning fresh, 3 hours for the CFA, lunch with a friend, 3 hours for the GMAT, 3 hours for the LLM, 2 hours at the spa, then a dinner here and there. Seamless!

Yet, I no longer have that energy nor can I handle it physically with the pain in my head. And simply, I just do not want to do as much as I can in a specified period of time like I used to. I still could, but I shouldn’t need to. It is a habit I developed over the years, particularly in school when everything was a race for more and faster. Now I have to unlearn this routine, because life is more than just trying to stay ahead of time. It is about the “moment of now” as my calligraphy teacher puts it. I need to stop thinking about all the things I need to do in the future and how the things I do today will after the day after. Focus on “the now”. Focus on “just chilling”. It’s a Herculean task for me.

I met my ex-bosses in Hong Kong this past week. I know they never did blame me for being sick and having to stop working, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Seeing them again after all these months helped me move on and reassured me they don’t hate me. But more importantly, they all encouraged me to take the time off to rebalance my life. AZ said I should just focus on regaining my health, rebuilding my confidence, and then think about what I want to do every now and then. It would come naturally. EC and I discussed playing Angry Birds on the iPad and watching classic cartoons like Arale. Other bosses and ex-colleagues chuckled, “it’s just a job, nothing is more important than you.” Ah, finally I can hear the message. Finally I am acting on it….

So, I am in the process of pulling out my fingers and toes, one by one. I started with dishing away work and the office, one big source of stress and drainer of energy. Then now I’m going through my other commitments and reprioritising them. Which ones do I actually enjoy doing? Which ones am I involved it because it “sounded good” to do so, all those examinations for instance? What is my real passion? What makes me happy? Then how much time do I want to spend on each item or person?

Too many pies are fattening. And I twirled around too fast previously to even taste the pies and remember their flavours. Now, I just want one or two pies that stimulate my taste buds the most, and savour the fragrance and texture of the pastry – and have the leisure to smack my lips for the sweet after taste.

And until the day I can just sit and watch a random TV show, or do nothing other than “hang out”, without the thought of “oh I can be doing something more productive”, I will not let myself go back to a full time job, lest I fall into that pit again. And anyways, between pilates class, calligraphy class, Arabic class, playing with jigsaw puzzles, writing my blog, occasionally cooking & baking, it doesn’t sound like I have much “free time” left…??!!!

Just being me…

4 Responses

  1. kk says:

    it’s funny reading ur blog cos i can identify with so much of it. Maybe I didn’t stretch myself to the extent that u did but like this whole ‘must be productive’ thing, it took me a longgggg time to learn to chill. B used to forbid me to log onto my laptop when I got home from work!

    maybe, we all had a bit of dgs mark in our lives 😛

  2. […] the rebalancing act – a neverending process By nochnoch, on August 14th, 2011 var addthis_product = 'wpp-261'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true};Bravo! So I’ve decided to slow down and savour life, to neutralize a bit the extremity of a hectic life I’ve led. But guess what, it’s not so easy. In fact its freaking difficult process. […]

  3. […] Then one morning, as I was sipping ginger tea and soaking up the sun’s radiance through my home’s windows, with my baers next to me on my purple chaise longue, it suddenly clicked in my thick skull! I was doing exactly the same thing that had brought me down and stressed me out in the last few years, especially at work. I was only concerned about the end goal, whatever it was. I wasn’t enjoying life even though I had the luxury of time to do so. What is wrong with sitting at home and enjoying the warmth of the sun on me? […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.