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The importance of freeing up headspace

Aug 01, 2022

School’s out for summer

It’s the 1st of August and we are well and truly in the thick of the summer holidays. Maybe some of you avoid taking any annual leave during the school summer break – I don’t blame you. Perhaps some of you have already been away and returned feeling that lovely glow of having experienced some R&R. Maybe your holiday has yet to take place and you are counting down the days…

I am in the latter camp. Very soon, en famille, I will be away for a lovely break in Europe, driving and stopping en route to stay in some Air BnBs, before reaching the villa we've hired. Then more stops on the journey home. To say this household is excited would be an understatement… Quite frankly it’s reaching fever pitch. Due to COVID, this holiday has been delayed and we have waited two years.

The thing is, do you find that the work you do before going on holiday, plus the work on your return to make up for the time out of the office, basically equates to everything you would have done if you hadn’t gone away! The checklist, the emails to send, the meetings to squeeze in and so on and so forth.

And whilst you are away, how long does it take for you to decompress- to wind down and let go and be free of any thoughts about work? A day? Two days? Four days? And then how near to the end of the holiday do you start winding yourself up thinking about what there'll be waiting for you when you get back- the emails to read through, to answer and action...?

Do you feel like you’re on life’s treadmill, a hamster constantly turning the wheel?

If you knew you couldn't fail, what would you do?

Ask yourself - if you could do anything, and money were no object, what would you do? Take a moment here and think about it. Really think about it. What would it be? Round the world travel? Turning your passion into a business? Perhaps taking early retirement so you can get through that to-do list of all the people you want to see and things you want to do/spend time on a pastime you enjoy? Build your dream home? Train for a triathlon? Write a book? Become a mentor and volunteer for a charity etc etc etc.

Yes, I appreciate there are bills to pay if we want to live comfortably – I’m not for one moment under the misconception that we are all in a position to throw caution to the wind, chuck in our jobs, and spend every single moment pursuing our passion; however, sometimes it's important to remind ourselves why we're doing what we're doing, and to take an inventory of our dreams.

We all have the same 24 hours in the day and with some careful planning and saving, might we possibly be able to achieve some of these dreams, albeit modified slightly?

The world makes a path for someone who knows where they are going.

Perhaps you love your life and you don’t feel the need to change anything. Great! Huge congrats. If you know you are settling for nothing less than your consciously chosen version of your best, happy days. However, with conscious thought, maybe you feel there’s some room for improvement, but possibly you can’t quite put your finger on what that is…

So, how do you know what you want out of life and how do you get it? Very important questions. Let’s not waste any time finding out the answers my friends…

First, know what your values are- your top five core values. All our decisions are based around our values so know what they are, rather than adopt them from someone else who didn’t give much thought to them either. Then, it’s finding your why- a strong sense of purpose consists of three things and if it’s missing a component then it’s not a sense of purpose, it’s a wish.

What you need is:






Who sets goals for us? Our parents, partner, manager, friends, even our children! Sometimes there can be a whole list of people which doesn’t even include ourselves… If we don’t set goals, someone else will do it for us; so, to have what we want in life, we need to have that sense of purpose, a specific goal and the utter self-belief in ourselves.

Mark Twain once said:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

So, what’s your why?

Humour me and grab a piece of paper and a pen (I go trad – no digital for me!).

Write a table with three columns and in the first column, write down all the areas of your life such as career, family, friends, finance, community etc. Then in the column next to that, score between 0 to 10 how you feel at the moment - how happy you are with that area of life, not where you think you should be. Then in the third column, is it a High, Medium or Low priority in your life at the moment?

So, it might look something like this:

Area of Life



Home – family life/partner












Health & wellbeing






Experiences/bucket list



Personal growth






If you have any areas with a score under 5 and an H, that’s an area you might want to focus on. Either make a plan to ensure you address this imbalance or realise that it can’t be important to you - change the H and rate it as a lower priority.

This exercise is worth doing regularly, to check-in what’s important to you because over time, that shifts as our values change. Are you drifting in life blindly working towards something which you don’t much care about anymore?

It’s also an exercise worth doing with family because then you can see how you might be able to find some common goals to all work towards. You might find there are some trade-offs between areas – perhaps you might settle for a smaller house if you want nicer holidays. You might well have to pay the price literally and metaphorically. This exercise really gets those cogs whirring and thinking about life in a way you might not have done previously. Because you can either direct your own life, or not. Most people only have a walk on part in their own lives – yet you should be the star and the director! 

Make a new plan, Stan

Without a plan of how you’re going to achieve your goal and the self-discipline to persist to achievement, you’re just living on Someday Isle - a place defined by The Winning Edge; it’s a place full of people who spend their lives procrastinating most of the time. You may be familiar with the statements: ‘Someday I’ll do that Open University degree’, ‘Someday I'll plan a holiday to Brazil’ or ‘Someday I’ll change my job and do something I’d really like to do’.

We're all doing exactly what we want to do every day because it sits most emotionally comfortably with us. Are you living life consciously though? Want a different life? Then do something about it. Figure out your why and make a plan. Life's too short to live on Someday Isle.

When we consciously create the headspace to think about what we want out of life, the answers start to form, the ideas at least start to flow. Holidays are a perfect time to do this- ask yourself the questions on Day One and then leave your subconscious to allow it to percolate and then come back to it post-holiday. The brain cannot be resourceful when in a negative state so if your head is full of work work work, you are less likely to be able to be creative. Rest, relax and unwind and who knows where your imagination might go with the possibilities you could achieve…


One final note, a carefully worded OOO (Out Of Office email) to inform everyone that you are on holiday, unable to be reached, will set the boundaries for others, as well as for yourself. That way, you get the down time you so deserve and there are expectations set for your return. Here’s one I made earlier (I can’t claim it as mine though- I’ve borrowed it from someone else which I thought rather fitted the bill):

Subject: Automatic reply

Hi there,

I'm currently out of the office.
Your message will not be forwarded automatically neither will it be read. I will be back at the office on 18 August 2022.



 I think we should all #bemoredave

 If you're off on your holidays- wishing you a fabulous time!


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