The luxury of unplanned long meals

By: Peter Nguyen
Last Updated: February 24, 2021

My wife and I recently did a staycation weekend at one of our favorite hotels, The NoMAD here in NYC. 

Surprisingly, we both found it hard to do what we came to do: Take a “vacation” from work and enjoy ourselves. 

It was really hard to enjoy having “nothing” to do.

The cult of productivity

Even before the pandemic, hustle porn loves pressuring us to make sure every second counts.

Walking to the coffee shop? Better listen to a podcast!

Sitting on the train? Whip open your Notes app and jot down some blog post ideas.

Ironically, we’re even downloading meditation apps to help us be more consistent with disconnecting from all our noisy, distracting apps.

Productivity and busyness, as my therapist pointed out after pegging me as , is really a form of avoidance.

Test

If we’re always moving and have “important things to do,” we don’t have the time to sit and deal with what’s really troubling us (because the truth is uncomfortable! And scary!) 

What is your “Rich Life?”

When the 1-year anniversary of COVID-19 and the lockdowns hit, I found myself reflecting on what I want in the years to come after all this passes.

My business mentor, Ramit Sethi, often asks “What’s your Rich Life?” 

As Ramit puts it:

“When I say a Rich Life, I’m not applying an arbitrary monetary value, like buying a fancy car or luxury handbag (although those are perfectly fine). I challenge my readers to define their Rich Life and to pursue it unapologetically…Maybe you want to be able to buy a round of drinks for your friends, always have flowers around you, take loved ones with you on unforgettable vacations, or invest in yourself even when you’re unsure of the outcome. Whatever it is, you alone can define what your Rich Life looks like.”

In other words: 

What the hell are you working so hard for?

When I think about Ramit’s question for myself, I keep coming back to the idea of how luxurious unplanned long meals feel.

A breakfast with my wife in the middle of a trip, where we sit for hours scrolling through photos and just…talk.

Or bumping into a friend on the streets of NYC, catching up over coffee at lunch, which eventually turns into early drinks and a late dinner (ending with annoying overpriced espressos, of course.)

Just…enjoying time.

I think about my styling clients talking about how they can’t wait to dress up for date night with their partners. 

Working with me was never really about getting nicer clothes to sit around in.  

And in the same way, being productive and working hard in my career can’t be about giving myself more time to be productive and work hard.

So what did my wife and I end up doing to enjoy our staycation?

We spent that weekend ordering copious amounts of room service, watching 90 day Fiancé, and playing some Nintendo Switch. For New Yorkers used to the grind, this was surprisingly challenging. 

But I left our staycation with a big new productivity goal: Be less productive.

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