The benefits of pressing reset

November 24, 2016 23:12

Over the past two months I've learnt that "reset", the dumbest button on the otherwise smart tech devices that now fill our lives, is the most powerful.

Think about it.

One tap and "boom", factory settings restored. Good as new.

And as if that wasn't low-tech enough, there's the ritualistic bit between "off'" and '"on". The 30 second wait or, my personal favourite, the tactical blow into any nook or cranny, to make sure everything is clear before the subsequent restart.

And then, in a whirr of fans, chips and motherboards, you're off again, at a billion miles a second. As if nothing happened.

By virtue of being home, I'm a better husband and father

In mid-August, I pressed my own reset button.

Offered the opportunity to take my career in an exciting new direction, I left a job I enjoyed in a company I love. But, rather than jumping straight in, I decided to pause and blow out the dust before pressing restart.

I chose to call it "willful unemployment". You might call it a career break. A two month career break.

It felt very unnerving at first. I've always been proud to be a "grafter", to quote my dad, an outstanding grafter from a fine line of grafters.

And, despite it feeling odd -- even wrong - after a decade of frenzied more-than-full-time employment, it has become one of the most valuable things I've ever done

The term "Jewish work ethic" is one we collectively wear with pride, and a phenomenon that has fascinated me for years. Could it be, as many suggest, a culturally shared characteristic?

I reckon so. We're always asked how we punch above our weight. How is it possible that we're all doctors, dentists and lawyers, clocking crazy hours whilst also dedicating ourselves to multiple causes and somehow raising families to boot?

I've been amazed by how many Jewish friends and family find my current "lad of leisure" status an affront to everything they stand for. I'm at the gym every morning. I'm reading. I'm catching up with people I've not seen for years. I'm even taking guitar lessons.

Not exactly the "grafting" my Rosenthal forebears would recognise, but hang on a minute...

By virtue of being home, I've unquestionably been a better husband and father. The wife and I actually have evenings together. We eat at a reasonable time and actually talk to each other.

We've conquered the mountain of paperwork that never gets done, had a new boiler installed and cooked and frozen enough meals to see the kids through to university; all jobs that ordinarily cause stress, strain and sleep loss.

Bath time, homework, storytime and bedtime, so often miserably viewed through a mobile phone screen from a desk in central London, have become important, shared family bonding moments, not to mention the highlights of my day.

Come November, I know I'll inevitably slip back into the full-throttle world of Jewish employment, with early mornings, late evenings and insanely ambitious, arguably unattainable, personal goals. But I'll do so with a rebalanced sense of priority, knowing exactly what I'm working towards and who I'm doing it for.

And that's the secret. With the pressure we innately feel to succeed, it's very easy to forget where we're heading and why we even want to get there. And you can't aim at, let alone hit, a target you can't even see.

So trust me, you're going to be working for the next thirty years. Do the proverbial reset, count to 30, blow out the dust and, if you're going to go off at a billion miles a second, make sure you understand what you're doing it for.

Boom. Factory settings restored. Good as new.

November 24, 2016 23:12

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