I have no idea how some people can be “work-a-holics”? Truly. I understand the concept of enjoying what you do for an occupation, but there is no way I would be able to allow work to consume my life to the point where I would rather do it over anything else. Sure, you have those people who are entrepreneurs and put their blood, sweat, and tears into something they feel led to do. I am not talking about them. You have others, like athletes and entertainers, who work constantly to present the best version of themselves for us normal people. Many of them are work-a-holics, but I believe the majority enjoy some free time as well.
Why is free time so important? Simple. It allows you to decompress and turn your brain off for a while. Getting out of “work mode” is good for your health and leads to a happier life. It is really easy to get wrapped up in work and making as much money as humanly possible (an aid to survival), but to keep up with the Joneses is not a mentality which will move you forward as a person. You may think you are moving forward, but you are not growing in the right way.
I have come across many articles lately about the concept of free time given to people in the workplace and it seems like our society in the U.S. is behind everyone else in the world. My five paid vacation days and hand-full of paid holidays seem like a joke in comparison to an article I read recently where an Australian company gives employees 12 weeks of vacation time. I don’t want to come off as some whiny Millennial; this is not what this is about. I also don’t need/want 12 weeks of vacation. What I want is for us as a society to acknowledge how important it is to embrace free time. I want us to encourage the living of life and not just existing.
What does this look like? First off, employers need to get in line. I understand the end goal of business is to make money, but I believe the healthiest businesses have the healthiest employees. Listen to your employees and value what they need. If they feel valued, listened to, and cherished, they will positively contribute to your company and its future success (which includes making money). If you treat them and their time like an expense, you may see talented individuals change into clock-watchers who exist and collect a paycheck. They will eventually leave for a better situation and you will have to find someone else to fill the role, which could end up being the same situation if you don’t correct it (something which costs you more money in the long run).
Employees, you need to own your role in the workplace and respect the opportunity you have been given, but you also need to know when to leave work at work. Put the phone down and don’t check your email. Instead, read a book, watch a movie, grab a quick bite to eat, do a project, or take a Friday off for a long weekend away. You should be able to do these things without worrying about how much vacation time you have left or what is waiting for you on your desk. Leave it alone.
I am hoping I can continue to take my own advice and view my free time as something which allows me to live my life. I want to continue to enjoy my time doing things I love, like spending time with my wife/family/friends, impacting the world in a positive way, and taking more trips (will continue to share some awesome shots I took from my recent trip to Detroit). Please continue to do the same!