Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live. ~Margaret Fuller
As we hit our holiday season, I thought it was most appropriate to talk work/life balance, and what we do with our “off” time. Do we actually, truly unplug? Most folks out there talk about the stress of the holidays and to me, that’s just no way to live. While it may be a hard decision to make, it still is just that – a decision. How much stress are you going to choose to allow in your life, whether it be from work, family, or personal obligations? Where will you draw the line and make time to recharge a priority? If you don’t, no one else will.
The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it. ~Author Unknown
At the bottom of this post is an infographic that shows what’s really going on in our workplaces, and the impact of working when we should be relaxing. I remember a former client telling me to not promote work/life balance at their organization when recruiting. To this leader, the term equated to “not working hard”. I was dumbfounded, to put it lightly. The concept that one isn’t working hard if they’re not living to work (rather than working to live, as is what I believe) is deeply disturbing to me, along with associated ideas currently in circulation that if you love what you do, there shouldn’t be any boundaries.
Our American society pressures the worker to live for the company, to believe that their job, their company, is more important than anything else they do. Well while some folks might find fulfillment in that, most folks I know, when they are on their deathbed, think about their families, their personal experiences, their memories – and wish they’d devoted more time to those instead of work. Fully checking out of the work space is healthy – and employers who truly get that know that a happy, well-rested employee is a much more productive employee. Those who create unwritten cultures of working late into the night, expecting emails on the weekends, and texting their employees while they’re on holiday to find out about something is not only poor form, but poor workforce planning.
There is precious little hope to be got out of whatever keeps us industrious, but there is a chance for us whenever we cease work and become stargazers. ~H.M. Tomlinson
I’ve been guilty of it, I admit! When I was a corporate recruiter, I rarely if ever took a true vacation – once every few years at best (a three day weekend is NOT a vacation, we all have to admit to ourselves, okay!). Now, owning my own business, I am more accountable to myself and my well-being, because I know that if I’m not getting the rest and relaxation I need to recharge my body and soul, I’ll be of little use to my clients.
There is more to life than increasing its speed. ~Mohandas K. Gandhi
So now I block out times on my calendar for the things I need. My clients know they’ll get what they need from me, efficiently and with high quality, and to me I know it’s because I have created a way of working that, well, works. For me, for them, and for my sanity. I take a couple of vacations a year. Yes, a year! (I can hear the Americans gasping). And I don’t feel guilty ! Because now? I look at my health and my career in a new way – I see how one affects the other, and rather than spend thousands upon thousands a year on health insurance (the new plan would cost a minimum of $6,000/yr plus $5,000 in deductible) for services that I just don’t use, I put a much smaller amount on mind/body preventative care. Yoga. Naturopathic check-ins. Acupuncture. Massage. Riding my bicycle. Taking walks. Time with friends. Long lazy conversations with my sweetheart. And yes, real time off, completely checked out.
Like steam from a cup of hot tea that fogs our glasses, false urgency of matters at hand blurs our vision to important things in the distance. ~Terri Guillemets
It’s not been easy telling prospective clients that I am closing up shop for the holidays. In our society, you never say no to the potential profit. But I know that if I don’t do what I need to do, I’ll be resentful and bitter and, well, a pain in the ass to be around. Not to mention eating through my stress (I’ve noticed my habits getting worse the closer I get to closing up shop, as the necessity for R&R increases)!
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. ~J. Lubbock
So you’ll see my blog posts as usual for the next month, but guess what? I’ve already written and prescheduled them for posting – nothing you’ll see during the holiday season, beyond a few travel photos, will be things that I’ve written while out on holiday. Because come hell or high water, I’m gonna relax with my honey, I’m gonna see new things, I’m gonna write new words, and I’m gonna breathe deeply. This has been an amazing year and the only thing I’m going to take with me during this time off is… me!
(Well, and maybe some cute new walking shoes).
A life spent in constant labor is a life wasted, save a man be such a fool as to regard a fulsome obituary notice as ample reward. ~George Jean Nathan