Thursday, October 8, 2015

Finding Balance

Monday and Tuesday of this week was my college's Fall Break. That means that students were off, and since students were off and most of our systems were down for a big data center move, I decided to take those two days off as well.

For a lot of the working world, taking a couple vacation days probably isn't that big of a deal. You have them, so you might as well use them, right? In fact, a lot of companies force employees to use all of their allotted days each year. The thing is, no matter how many times I tell myself those two statements, I haven't learned the trick of not feeling major guilt when I take vacation. Maybe it's a teacher thing, maybe I have issues....but I find it really hard to turn my brain off. It always seems like there is something MORE I should be doing, and I feel like I'm being a bad employee if I actually take any vacation days.

I was thinking about this over the weekend and on Monday while I was off. I spent Monday hanging out with my newly retired mom, and I can't tell you how many times I checked my email or checked in on work things while we were out and about (the blessing and curse of smartphones, I guess).

And then Tuesday came, and I was faced with the reality that the day was going to be spent attending one funeral while other family members were attending a second funeral that was being held at the same time. Suddenly, as I was riding to the funeral with my parents, I realized that there has to be balance. It is so cliche, but we really aren't promised tomorrow. And it just made me think that the most important thing is to actually be present.  While I definitely wish the occasion hadn't been what it was, I was so thankful all day for the mid-week time I got to spend with my parents and grandparents. I heard stories from my dad I'd never heard before, explored out in the country a little bit, and had lunch with my grandparents. And during the whole day, I think I only used my phone to find a place to eat and get directions.
So what does being present mean? When I'm at work, focus on work. Be there, be productive, and do my best. It's not realistic to think that I'm never going to have work to do at home and that it won't ever bleed over. But- it's okay to take time off. At the end of the day, as important as my career is, it's work, a career, but it's not what my life is. Although I like my job, I don't live to work. I live to enjoy time with my family, pursue interests, and all of those things. While the paycheck that comes with work enables me to do those things, I don't live to work. So this is just me reminding myself that it's okay to take time off every once in a while, and in fact, I'll probably be a better employee for it! And then when I'm at home or with friends and family, be present. Soak it up. Realize that it's okay to take a drive, linger over dinner or a drink, or even take a night to be lazy with a book that's I'm just reading for fun.

Here's to finding balance.


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