Journal and coffee

Written by Nicole Kleemann


Decision Making, Inner Critics & Fears

Recently, a client of mine quit her job and decided to take some time off for herself, to meet up with friends and family, and determine what the next step really needed to look like.

On first glance taking time off to gain clarity and see friends and family sounds amazing, right? Or does it sound a bit indulgent? And how do you answer the question: What do you do in the next couple of following months, when you are used to saying: I am a [job title] at [company]?

When we create substantial change in our lives we are not only feeling excited, we can also be feeling a lot of fear and worry. Most people think that the financial side is the biggest worry. However, the length of time someone can take off work financially, and what the budget will be, can be figured out pretty fast.

What is much harder to deal with are the old beliefs and insecurities we have around taking time off. In a world where go-go-go is the way of being and FOMO is around every corner, taking time for oneself is hard. Some people already struggle with guilt and feel selfish when they try to take just 30 minutes a week for themselves. Can you imagine what happens when you increase this to two or three months of time off? Possibly a major stomach churn!


Reflect and Visualize

In the conversation with my client, I asked her what she likes to do and experience during her time off and she had two, well really three, thoughts as a response:

  • Gain clarity on her next career move.
  • Spend time with family and friends.

And ideally…

  • Learn something new.

Then I asked her how many friends and family members she wanted to see, and how much time she wanted to spend on learning something new and gaining clarity on her next career move.

While she was talking, I took notes and counted how many days that would take. And with friends and family, and the networking she wanted to do, it showed her as already being busy for a whole month. Vacation time to rest, relax, learn something new and what I call unforeseeables were not even covered yet.

And while I had created a visual while listening to her and taking notes, she had not done so yet herself. So her homework was to get a calendar with monthly spreads, post-it notes, colored markers, and highlighters and start marking the days.

You don’t need to quit your job or business to go through this process. If you think about what’s important to you in your life for the next couple months, you can have a brainstorming session with yourself and then start making a rough draft of a calendar to see what it would look like.


Make it tangible

Writing it down on paper helps to calm your worries as you have visible and tangible evidence of what the next few weeks or months could be. You see and know exactly how many days you have ahead of you and what open time and space is available.

According to research, writing things down has a higher memory recall than using digital means. You are more mindful while writing by hand, which is likely why it calms the worried brain. You are actually 25% faster than typing, and most importantly in this case “paper notebooks contain more spatial information than digital paper.” Paper does not disappear when you close the app, so we worry less that we will forget something. We recall much better what we wrote on paper than what we typed into our laptop. And it is very hard to see several months at one glance on any digital screen.

Visualizing your next two to three months on paper is a great way to:

  • Gain clarity & calm your mind
  • Note your goals and milestones
  • Figure out the best flow to take some time off
  • See where and when your work time fits in – looking for a new job, doing current projects, etc.

Personally, I like a wall calendar as I need to see 3-4 months at a glance to manage my projects. My client chose a travel compatible planner. Evaluate and plan out what will work best for you. It’s a worthy endeavor with huge benefits and a lifetime of payback.



Nicole Kleemann, Leadership Empowerment Coach, is a regular guest blogger in our Heart of the Home series. She can be reached at -- and other inspiring blog posts can be found there as well.