For the longest time managers have always told me to make sure I use my vacation time. In fact, many of the times I knew it was more company line than what they meant. With the amount of work that we had to get done, the hours needed to put in taking vacations often were not something the manager wanted us to take. Over the years finding the right job and manager vacations were something that were taken, but often with the words to ‘recharge’ or ‘prevent burn out.’
Now let us think about that. Taking a vacation to do those things means that your job is so overwhelming or stressful, that the only escape is to leave and go away. More importantly, going on vacation is somehow magically repairing the damage that has been done at work. Wow, that better be some magical vacation, it better be the vacation of your dreams, no delays, no issues etc. On the day of your return somehow all the problems are gone, and you can hit peak performance at work.
Somehow that just sounds stupid writing is it and I am sure it sounds worse reading it. I am going to make a simple statement, there is no such thing as work life balance, there is just life. Any thinking otherwise is the same as believing the magical vacation will bring you back. Your work is as much a part of your life as so is your home life, where you volunteer, the friends you see and the places you go.
There are a lucky few who love what they do so much they do not work for a day in their life. For others we work to provide for our families, try to have a better life or even just pay the bills. Now instead of dreading that and trying to find balance if we inject that it is life, what differences can happen?
First, we can build good relationships at work. When I was learning how to manage bands (yes, I took classes in that) there was this notion you needed to network. One thing I learned well working at Loria Music was building relationships. When I started at a large bank I used these skills, and in my current job there is a running joke ‘Larry knows a guy…” What the network has turned it to is not a business set of contacts but good relationships. What I originally thought was necessary to get ahead in life was more becoming part of my life.
Next, we can change how we think about stress. For years I though stress was a killer and a problem. This is how I thought about work stress, as in trying to be an athlete, stress, or pressure as it is called was used as a motivator. And to win one needs to handle the pressure and use it as a positive instead of a negative. Stress should be a motivator at work, it should bring out the best in you. There are studies that show, yes stress is just that. If you learn stress is positive, you will start treating it that way.
Finally understand how to deal with failure. My previous post I talked about succeeding at everything means you are not taking any risks. But there is something even more important (and needs its own post) that failure is not treated the right way. Failure in some cases is not an option (aka a surgeon) but sometimes they do. Failure needs to be treated in a straightforward way of how we prevent it from happening again or reduce the possibility of it happening. If we find the wisdom in failure, instead of coming home from work saying you had a difficult day you come home with the thought more of I learned something and need to work on applying it.
To get back to my original point, a vacation should be just that a getaway to enjoy yourself. It should not be something to recharge. There needs to be something that you do (it is not your company/bosses’ role) to recognize your life and to make the most of it. It is not easy, unlearning the bad history of work will take effort and time but the reward at the end is wonderful. I was asked this past week why I stayed at the company so long, it was easy to answer. Leaving for other places means leaving the community I built, the ability to use the challenges at work to get better and know how to improve myself from mistakes. Now the stressful thought is where should I go?
This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free. I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them.
This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book. With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path. I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content. I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip. I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog. AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them.