What I Learnt from Taking 2 Months Off Work

My Time In New York

So I am heading back to the UK after what seems like a whirlwind two months in New York. It’s a strange feeling as I feel like it was an age ago that I was in London and writing this post about our first week here but at the same time, my weeks in NYC have just flown by.

My time in the city has been so fun and I have loved exploring all the neighbourhoods, fun bars, markets, famous sights and catching up with friends that live in the city. I feel incredibly lucky that I had the opportunity to do this as I realise most working adults can’t take this amount of time off work, so I will always be grateful to my incredibly understanding company for letting me come (more on that here).

Our time here wasn’t always completely carefree as we are supposed to be saving for a wedding and New York is an expensive city but we usually managed to balance our activities and spending.  Some of my favourite experiences were watching a live basketball game in Brooklyn (go Nets!), trying a pastrami sandwich at the institution that is Katz’s Deli, watching the sun set at the Top of the Rock, visiting Toronto, walking the Brooklyn Bridge to Dumbo, exploring Williamsburg (Brooklyn Brewery, Nitehawk Cinema and Radegast Hall were all fab), seeing Times Square, playing retro arcade games in Barcade, writing in the New York Public Library, day trip to Philly and so many more! (You can read a list of my top NYC recommendations here).

Things I Have Learnt

As much as I am sad to leave Marc and NYC (I wish he was coming with me!), I am also really excited to catch up with everyone back in the UK. My time here has made me realise just how much I value my family and friends and I really appreciated all their messages throughout our stay. Which brings me on to the first of the things I have learnt from taking 2 months off work:

  • Family and friends are important.

    I’m lucky that most of my friends live in London and family members just an hour’s train ride away, so it’s easy for me to socialise and fill my diary when in the UK. Though we have definitely kept ourselves busy in New York, caught up with old friends and met some lovely people, I realise just how much I love having family and friends nearby. Saying that though, I have also realised that:

  • I’m OK on my own.

    One of my biggest worries moving out to New York without an office job – the only thing I have known since graduating – was that I would feel lonely or lost being on my own all day. This didn’t happen once and in fact the days really did fly by! On a regular weekday I would lie in until 9am or 10am (such a treat!), go to the gym, shower and get ready, pop out for lunch and then work on my blog, wedding planning or writing in the afternoon. Then Marc would get home and we would usually do something fun in the evenings. It was almost the taste of full-time blogger life and I found myself quite enjoying it! We also had 4 friends visit us during our time away, I caught up with some visiting bloggers and I also had a trip to Canada, so there wasn’t much chance to feel lonely anyway.

  • Don’t Overload Yourself.

    Perhaps because I was worried about feeling lonely or perhaps because I knew that it was rare to get this time off work, I set myself lots of goals, including organising a 12 month strategy for the blog, planning our entire wedding, writing a bunch of pilot script episodes and volunteering at animal shelters. Needless to say, I didn’t quite manage to do all of these things that I set out! At first I felt bad about it but then I realised that I was having a good time and was actually stressing myself out more by worrying about my own expectations. So I decided to accept my limits, prioritise the important stuff (i.e. wedding) and just enjoy having a more relaxed way of life. Which brings me on to:

  • Always Make Time to Do What Makes You Happy.

    It’s very easy to get consumed by work and feel like the days and weeks fly by until hey, another year is over. Taking this time out helped me to remember what makes me happy, for instance, I was able to read real books again! Since graduating from my English Lit degree in 2011 I found that I rarely made the time to read a good book and I forgot how much I enjoy it. I also managed to get enough sleep for the first time in a long while which made me feel so much better. Sometimes it’s the simple things like this that we forget to make time for.

  • Appreciate Your Area More.

    New York is often hailed as the greatest city in the world and it is an amazing, unique place. I loved that there were so many huge streets with so many independent shops and cafes and that people did and said exactly as they pleased with no embarrassment. However, it also made me realise just what a great city London is, from the grand white townhouses and cute pastel mews of Notting Hill to the urban jungle of Shoreditch. I feel like maybe London doesn’t quite get the credit that it should and that I really ought to appreciate it more.

  • Embrace each day and stop talking, start doing.

    OK, this one sounds a little more ‘motivational poster’ but the main thing I learnt from being here was just how quickly time flies. Like I said before, I didn’t manage to achieve all the goals I set for myself during this time off but I did finally start putting into action tasks that I had been talking about for a long while. When time moves so quickly, you’ve just got to throw yourself in. I firmly believe that doing more and accomplishing more things (no matter how big or small) builds up your mind and body to achieve more. And that’s it for the motivational speech.

So for now it’s ta-ra New York and see you on the flipside London!