I have a confession to make. When I started my career, in my first job in the big city of NY, I was hungry. I have always been aggressive and a go getter. I wanted to get s#*t done.
But I was also very intimidated by one massive life choice.
I am an Orthodox Jew.
Actually, this should come as no surprise to anyone who has met me in the professional world. When I walk into a room, it becomes very clear to everyone there that something is slightly different (spoiler alert: I have a big black yarmulke on my head). Yes, it’s true, I am a kippa wearing, kosher eating, G-d fearing, Jew.
You ask, why that should make any difference?
Really, it shouldn’t. But believe it or not, I have encountered some rough patches where my religion has put me in positions where I “had to choose”. For example, early in my career, I once interviewed at an agency for an entry level position. The interview went really well until the woman looked me over and point blank told me “you will have to work on the weekends, which means Friday night and Saturday, will that be a problem?” Honestly, I was speechless since I thought it was clear by the yarmulke on my head that it was a no brainer, in NY nonetheless. I answered her that I was Sabbath observant and while I couldn’t work on Friday night and Saturday all my Saturday nights and Sundays were hers. Point being, I was not afraid to work.
The choice has always been a clear one for me.
Needless to say, I did not get that job. And to be honest, I would have been miserable in that role, constantly justifying my actions and beliefs to my boss. I would chalk that up to being a nightmare.
Why do I bring this all up now?
For a couple of reasons: First, this is the first week of the year where the clocks change. And you know what that means… EARLY DISMISSAL!
Well, not exactly.
That means the uncomfortable moment where I have to send an email to my boss and explain why I am checking out early for the duration of the winter months because I don’t work on the Sabbath which starts really early.
My classic response is to send the clip from the Big Lebowski (below… warning for profanity) and then explain it more in depth with a follow up email.
Luckily for me, I have had some really amazing bosses who recognize the mere 3 or 4 hours I have to leave early is always paid back ten fold in the effort I exert through the week.
But second, this is the first time where I have felt confident enough in my career to openly talk about it. Full transparency, even when I started at spark, I DREADED having that first conversation explaining this to my boss (who was beyond understanding about it). In general, I used to just brush it off and pretend like it was just a thing I did. I would go about my business, do what I needed to, but that was it. No one needed to know the details.
It’s Different Now
I by no means flaunt it, and anyone who knows me will tell you that (I hope). But things feel different now. I truly value those 25 hours that I “turn off” and “unplug”. I have mandated time where I am NOT ALLOWED to be connected. I am unplugged. No Facebook, No Twitter, No Instagram. Just the people around me.
How Do I Manage? Don’t I Fall Behind?
Well it’s pretty simple. I work hard. I work late.
Since I know that I have one less day to work than everyone else, I know that I had better get my work done. And guess what, I have also NEVER missed a deadline.
I have also started doing announcing on twitter that I am offline for 25 hours and I will return after to set expectations on why people can’t reach me.
Alright… running late. I’m popping off for 25 hours of family time.See y’all Saturday night.
— Aaron Friedman (@AaronFriedman) October 26, 2012
I have mandated family time. I spend every Saturday with my gorgeous kids and my beautiful wife. Uninterrupted. Just us.
And I am no different than you are. Shutting down is hard. I feel my phone buzz in my pocket when it’s not really there. To be honest, Sunday morning breakfast is ridiculous while my wife and I are additively checking our phones. There is always some kind of buzzing, music or TV blasting somewhere in the home.
But not on Saturday. Saturday is our time for each other. It’s family time. Its time where we check out, and we re-connect with each other while disconnecting from technology. We re-connect with the things that are really important and reclaim that fresh life perspective.
And on Saturday night, when three stars come out, after 25 hours, we light the candle, take out the guitar and sing away the Sabbath, and start the new week.
(I understand that some of you reading this might have some questions about this. So, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to ask me privately. Every single question is welcome. You will have a hard time offending me so don’t be shy 🙂 )