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Do You Need an Adult Time Out?

Where other beings might see obstacles, my parrot, Pearl, sees only opportunity. For instance, here I see a purely functional roll of paper towels. And Pearl sees a nifty new nest which immediately gets his creative juices flowing!

I have realized lately that I am not always clear about what I want.

Whether in life, in love, for my future or for my present, it can be far too easy to get caught up in checking items off my daily to-do list, only to finish one day after another exhausted, spent, wondering if it will all ever add up to anything more than a mangled piece of paper full of check marks at each day’s end.

I hope it will.

But I am learning it may take a bit more than just hoping before that actually occurs.

Specifically, I am learning this from my newest favorite mentor and teacher, Sonia Choquette, whose book “Your Heart’s Desire” has been moved to the very top of my reading stack for the foreseeable future. This is because, while I feel like I understand most of the instructions she gives in each chapter, I don’t understand yet how to follow those instructions.

After all, the book’s title is “Your Heart’s Desire,” not “Your Head’s Desire.”

There is a big difference, according to Sonia.

And actually, I am starting to realize this myself, because when I ask my head what it wants it gives different answers to this question than the answers my heart gives.

My head’s desires are all about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and even here it seems permanently stalled out at the ground level (food, shelter, safety, wads of extra cash….).

My heart, on the other hand, has desires it seemingly pulls out of every fantasy romance novel I ever read as a girl – true love ever after, starting and ending every day with beach-side sunrises and sunsets, taking a semi-permanent vacation while occasionally typing out yet another best-selling book featuring my precious trio of feathers and shells.

Suffice it to say we have a little inner disconnect standing in between me and a straight shot forward into my dream life.

When this happens, Sonia recommends taking a time out.

This isn’t a time out like in grade school when you do something older folks think is bad and they send you someplace you don’t want to go, like the corner or the principal’s office.

Nope. This is a different kind of time out entirely. This kind of time out is the sort that is in direct conflict with how most of us were raised – what she calls the “finish all your homework before you can go out and play” approach to life.

Not that there is anything wrong with finishing all your homework – that is part of learning too. But Sonia’s reasoning here is simple. If we don’t stop, just STOP, at some point, we will likely never realize that our adult “homework” is never-ending. Adult life is chock-full of homework – so full it can make the childhood variety seem like a cakewalk in comparison.

As adults, our daily homework includes taking care of houses and cars and employees and clients and family members. We are responsible for the health and wellbeing of lawns and trees and pets and people and insurance policies and even the household fire extinguisher.

From this perspective, even tending to our own fitness, food and sleep needs can start to feel like the lowest to-do item on the adult homework totem pole. So when will there ever be extra time to tend to a heart’s desire on top of all that?

Sonia adds that if we do manage to carve out any time, we will likely either be tempted to spend it napping instead of working on our dreams or we will feel so guilty about using it for something that is “just for us” we won’t make good use of the time.

This is a tough way to live, any way you slice it.

But Sonia, like most adults around my age, has (or had when she wrote the book) a husband, a mortgage, kids, plus pets and a business and all the rest. My life looks eerily empty in comparison. Yet I too struggle to find time to pursue my heart’s desires. Even more, I struggle to find time that still has some energy left in it. At day’s end, after sitting at a computer for hours upon hours typing and typing and typing to help other people pursue their dreams, my personal dream shifts from a macro to a micro level.

After yet another long day of working for myself, a glass of wine on the couch while watching reruns of “Burn Notice” is about the most I can manage to dream of. This is not the time to plunge into anything other than bed.

Which brings me back to the adult time out. So what does an adult time out look like?

To hear Sonia tell it, it begins with identifying to-do list items that are less of a requirement and more of an option. These might be the items whose chief purpose is to make me look good to others, give me a false sense of accomplishment so I can weasel out of committing to my (impossible-seeming) dreams, cater to my worried brain’s never-ending stream of bag-lady-on-the-street variety fears, this sort of thing.

It continues with being willing to let go of obstacles, including optional to-do list items but also fears that what I dream about is not possible at all, or is not possible for me.

In this way, she says her own mentors taught her to organize her life around her dreams, rather than trying to shove some time for her dreams into her already over-committed daily life.

Today’s Takeaway: Are you struggling to find time or energy in your current life situation to pursue something else that just never seems to get to the top of your to-do list? Or have you been in this situation in the past and figured out a creative way to put your dreams first? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Do You Need an Adult Time Out?

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2020). Do You Need an Adult Time Out?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Apr 2020
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