I did not see this one coming.

I was challenged by my professors at Harvard to the #solitudechallenge – which means to take 30 minutes and not do anything, which also includes a full disconnection from technology. That’s right – no emails, no tablet, no social media, and no work.

To provide a bit of personal context, I am not unfamiliar with meditation. I was drawn towards meditation during my graduate studies when I was both working and in school on a full-time basis. There’s a 168 hours in a week, so you can imagine that if you add sleep to that equation, there does not seem to be a whole lot of additional time left over. I had to find a way to de-stress and clear (or “free”) my mind that matched my calm personality type, and meditation was the perfect answer.

However, I have not been as disciplined with my meditation over the past year as I would have been normally. Life became very busy over the past 12 months with moving back to my hometown, several international consulting projects, full-time teaching load, supporting students, and developing new projects. My typical work structure started to breakdown at the beginning of this academic year, as more and more opportunities crossed my path and my time became increasingly scarce.

That is why I am thankful for the #solitudechallenge. It has put me back on the right path and in the right frame of mind. Three key themes emerged as I engaged in deep thought during the challenge:

  1. Self-preservation versus altruism – which led to:
  2. Burn-out prevention and self-care – which led to:
  3. Revisiting the true priorities in my life: my family; the health and well-being of my mind, body, and spirit; and my independence and autonomy.

I, like many educators, are incredibly passionate about their work and career. We do what we do for the love of our students and trying to give them opportunities that will help their generation become better than the generations before them.

That said, it is far too easy to become entirely absorbed in what you do when you love it so much. I’ve worked with 100’s of entrepreneurs in my life, and it is the same delicate balance that I have observed between doing what you love and knowing how much of it to do that will ultimately define its collective impact on you, your life, and your family.

So I would like to thank my professors for posing the #solitudechallenge. It came at a fantastic time and has helped me to revisit my goals and priorities.

By the way, I have now been meditating every day since taking the challenge on.

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with life, I would suggest giving the #solitudechallenge a go.


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