My family and I just finished a lovely vacation in Traverse City, Michigan. It was a much needed break from the grind and for us marked a commitment to taking more vacation/family time. Over the course of our vacation, I was reminded of 3 work-life lessons that are an essential practice if we want to avoid burnout and enhance our overall life-satisfaction. They are:
1) It’s ok to put work away. For the better part of a week I turned everything off and focused on the family. I had intended to finish writing my first book The Two Year Old’s Guide to Work-Life Balance” but quickly opted to just enjoy the moments with the family, the lake, the sunsets, and great conversations. I’d be lying if I said I did not check email and write the odd note but it was minimal. I gave myself permission to put work on the back-burner and devoted my time and effort to my family and I feel no guilt for doing so.
2) The Power of Play. It’s amazing how often we can forget to play and have fun. Hobbies can often disappear as we throw ourselves into our work. We (and I am one of them) keep telling ourselves there will be time for fun when we have “made it.” Of course “making it” never really happens not because we don’t succeed but because we become addicted to chasing goals. As a result, fun and play take a back seat. Over the course of the week I not only played with my children (which meant a lot of LEGO and action figures) but actually took time to continue my Masterclass in comedy with Steve Martin. It was through this process that I rediscovered how much fun play is.
3) Embrace the New. Full disclosure: I am an introvert father with an ultra-extrovert son who talks to EVERYBODY! I had conversations with all sorts of people and definitely pushed my comfort zone. As a result I met new people and soon the resort become more familiar and homey because I knew almost everybody on the beach. Although not all of us desire to talk to every soul who crosses our path, there was a nicety to getting to know people and expanding my world; even if it was a for a couple of days. I felt less insular and isolated. It’s a lesson I want to incorporate into my regular routine as the grind can often cut us off from other people and from having new experiences. I didn’t plan on climbing Sleeping Bear Dunes (large sand hills for those who don’t know) but once we parked the car I thought: why wouldn’t I? Just like with meeting new people, I decide to push my comfort zone and actually participate in the moment. I also reflected on how many times in my daily life would I drive past something or be a passive observer vs an active participant. We don’t have to destroy our comfort zone or our routines all the time. That being said consistent nudges forward whether it is expanding our networks or having new experiences (or both) are great ways to improve our work-life.
The 3 Work-Life Lessons I was reminded of on my vacation are not earth shattering by any means. They are simple and border on reactions of well-duh. Yet those simple lessons are often overlooked. It’s a shame when that happens because there was a simple and refreshing beauty to put one or all three of those lessons into practice.
Paul Artale is a work-life expert. For more information visit www.paulartale.com