June 8, 2015
We’re well into the first half of June now so it’s time to officially declare summer is here. When I was a kid I used to celebrate the arrival of summer in a big way. It’s when my freedom from school arrived and the warm weather allowed me to explore and play in the outdoors. I couldn’t wait for summer to arrive; I suspect you felt the same back then.
Of course, as an adult with lots of responsibilities, you still have to work. But summer still means warm evenings outside after work, outdoor lunches, and an upcoming vacation. Or does it? 40% of Americans do not take the vacation time they have accrued. And with many Americans working 70 to 80 hour weeks, their evenings may be spent in the office or driving back from work–not enjoying the evening at home. Even weekends for many of us are being spent at work or doing work. More and more of us enjoy almost no time off, and summer will pass us by.
Why is that? A recent article in the New York Times lists a few culprits:
- “Fear is the primary driver of this crisis. Public companies live in morbid fear of being outflanked by competitors, failing to meet their quarterly targets and watching helplessly as their stocks are pummeled by impatient investors.” And so those companies push their employees harder.
- “Leaders and managers live in fear of not delivering their numbers and losing their jobs, so they look constantly for ways to cut expenses – and head counts – which puts ever more pressure on their employees to do more with fewer resources.”
And obviously, the economic downturn and resulting high unemployment generated fear among employees. Many workers are still worried that there are 5 people waiting to take their job should they slip up, so they’d better work harder and harder to prove their worth.
But I say we all have to get past this fear, and start to enjoy life again. And summer is the perfect time to start. If you are an employee, have a discussion with your manager about how summer is here and what are reasonable expectations of work. You may be surprised to hear them say they think you are working too hard and they honestly feel you should slow down. Sometimes, out of a habit of internal fear, we build up a false vision of what’s expected of us and you may be surprised to find what the real expectations are. If you are an employer, now is a perfect time to rein in the craziness that pervades so many businesses and set an example for your staff—slow down! Start enjoying summer.
After all, why do we work? Ultimately, it’s to make our life or our family’s life better, more enjoyable. But if we cannot enjoy summer, where have we gotten?
Don’t think to yourself that you’ll slow down later in the summer, just not quite yet. Now is the perfect time to start. Slow down a bit now. Enjoy evenings outside. Take those outdoor lunches. Get outside on some weekend trips. And schedule your vacation now. Let’s change the craziness that has permeated our work society, starting now.