Stop Wasting Your Time Off

Somewhere, somehow, somebody decided that vacations & weekends are the reward for all of our hard work. The result? We slave 50 weeks a year so we can sun tan for 2. We stare at our computer all week so we can stare at our TV all weekend.
Then the alarm buzzes on Monday morning and we hit the snooze button once, twice, thrice, or more, squeezing out every last drop of our “free time” before heading back to the grindstone. 
That’s a sucky way to live.  And it’s completely backwards to the way it’s supposed to work.
Vacations and weekends are supposed to be refreshment, not reward. If you have the right mindset, your time away from work should re-energize you and re-charge your batteries so you get up each Monday and actually look forward to going to work. Any other use is a waste of your precious time.
No, this is not the talk of a madman, nor is it the talk of someone with a perfect life full of sunshine and rainbows every day.
I’ve had crappy jobs. During those jobs I relished my vacations as a reward for putting up with all the crap. In retrospect, those vacations weren’t rewards. They were temporary escapes. And they were almost always ruined about half-way through by the thought of returning to my crappy job in a few days.
I’ve also had some great jobs that I really enjoyed. The vacations I took during those jobs were some of the best vacations I’ve ever had, and not because they were in some exotic location or five-star resort. It’s because the purpose of those vacations was different. Instead of escaping, I was re-charging. Instead of trying to forget about my job, I was trying to gain new experiences. Instead of comparing my great vacation to my crappy job, I was actually having thoughts on vacation about how to do my job better when I returned.
So my question to you is: do you work to vacation better or do you vacation to work better? Are you working for the weekend (anybody remember that Loverboy song from the 80’s?) or are you using your weekend so that you can work better next week?
Ok, so there’s a little bit of the idea here that if you enjoy your work, your time off will likely be that much more enjoyable. Glad you picked up on that. I’m all for people finding work that engages and inspires them. But there’s something else.
How you use your weekends and vacations is important. Let me rephrase that: WHY you use your time off is important. And when you think about the why, it might just change the how.
We’ve got a weekend coming up (we always do, right?). What if you think differently about this coming weekend? What if you decide that the most important purpose (the why) of this coming weekend is to refresh & re-energize yourself so you can hit the ground running next week full of energy and excitement about your job? Will you spend your time and energy any differently this weekend?
  • Will you clear your schedule a bit so your weekend isn’t crammed full of activity?
  • Will you take some time to read something that inspires you in your work?
  • Will you take more time to connect to your family (you know, the people you work so hard for during the week)?
  • Will you unplug your electronics? Smart phone, too?
  • Will you exercise at least a little bit?
  • Will you spend some time in thought & reflection instead of filling every minute with sports, TV, movies, and the endless parade of other typical weekend distractions?
  • Will you spend any time in service to others?
  • Will you take a few moments to recognize all the good things in your life and work?
I preach this all the time, but it’s always worth repeating because it’s so important. You’ll spend at least 40 hours at work each week. That’s 2000+ hours each year. 100,000 hours in your lifetime. Are you maximizing those hours with the kind of positive energy that helps you make a difference in your work and in the world? Or are you spending all that time just so you can go jet-skiing this weekend?
So I’m dying to know what you think. Did this resonate with you at all? I’d also like to know what you might do differently this weekend to refresh & re-energize yourself instead of simply escaping work for a few days. Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.
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