As I’m on vacation I have been reflecting on work-life balance. I’m not sure about you but this year and over the last two years my work-life balance has been unbalanced. It has been more work than anything else. When that happens, I tend to retreat and not want to be around people or things go haywire just so I can have an excuse to go somewhere, anywhere to relax.
I honestly believe that being unbalanced is a natural state for Americans. We convinced ourselves that it’s not necessary to have down time or any type of work life balance because we have it altogether, which we really don’t. I think this is also something we have believed in church. That the busier we are, the more valuable we are or the better others, including God will like us. This is called performance-based religion. We have made our jobs our religion and immersed ourselves in it for one reason or another. If you’re always on, then people can’t live without you. Somehow, we have equated this to our worth.
When we realize that our worth and value on this earth isn’t determine by how busy our calendars are we will begin to live a more abundant life. I work in a global arena and so I see how other cultures manage their time and I’m always in awe of their ability to focus on the important things first. My colleagues and customers in Europe take a minimum of 2 weeks off at a time (for vacation) and in some areas shut down the entire month of August. They use that time to travel and recharge. While they are out, I rarely hear from them. Very different than how American’s manage their time. Studies have shown that people are more productive when they take time off and disconnect.
If studies have shown the productivity is better, families are happier, and individuals have balance why don’t we do it? This is a question I constantly ask myself. Why do we (I say we because I’ve heard others agree to this point) feel guilty about taking care of our family first? Why do we feel guilty if we’re not working while in vacation? Why do we not properly set expectations when we’re out of the office? Why? I would have to say because we feel our value will diminish in some way. If we are not constantly working, then we are not valuable.
That is not true! Employers expect us to take our time off. They want healthy employees. They want us to be in healthy homes. They want us to have balance. I must believe that employers understand the costly consequences to a person not having the right balance in their life. So, if that is true why do we work so hard and create constant business? I believe the answer is twofold. I don’t really believe that we have a corporate culture that practices or enforced this well. I also know as individuals we don’t value our time off and enjoy it to the extent we should.
I want to make this very clear to everyone. The ONLY people that will miss you when you’re gone are those you should have spent time with while you were here. Your job and company will go on. They will have your position filled before your family goes through mourning. I know this sounds harsh and cold, but I really hope you’re able to sense the urgency of creating boundaries that allow you to have proper balance. I know we all have busy schedules and work will take more of our time on occasion but remember the job is a means of income God is the source.
If God took time to rest, why do we feel like we must work extra to prove ourselves to others. Shouldn’t we be doing everything as unto God? Then give him your best at work and find the time to rest properly. This will ensure you have a creative mind and be available to do greater than you expected. I'm really talking to myself here because I struggle with resting and feeling okay with it. Take time to rest, and when you start to feel guilty, remember that when you are doing nothing, you're doing something. You are caring for your body, mind, and spirit. Take time to relax and do what makes you better for yourself, family, church, and employer.