I used to not take days off work. I hated to be gone because I was sure that my absence equaled a statement about my lack of commitment. And I was convinced that my bosses wouldn’t be able to carry on without me being physically in the office. So in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, I went to work.
Then a very smart friend told me in a very clear and concise manner that I am not my job. She point out something so obvious, I missed it. My job is something that I do, it is not who I am. I didn’t accept that at first, it was such a novel idea. I mean it was a good job, and it was the first job I’d gotten out of college. I was really proud of that achievement and wanted to give it all I had. But something about her words still resonated with me.
That job has come and gone but that idea that I am not my job sticks with me even now. Its really liberating and I try to encourage others to embrace the ways of taking all the time possible off from work. It started with mental health days. There were often times when I felt like a needed a break, but I’d just be really cranky and mean but still keep showing up to work anyway. The mental health day offered a gateway to being gone from work because the alternative (cranky and mean) was no better than being gone for a day.
These days I’ve come to fully embrace the full on vacation, twice a year summer and winter for the holidays. Plus the random days off in there. I even spent part of last year in a vacation time deficit because I’d take so much time off, yup that means negative vacation days. There’s a problem I never thought I’d have. I still rely on my good friend the mental health day to get me through tough times when the schedule is a little more tight. But as I sit here sipping coffee and starting out the window enjoying a leisurely Saturday morning I know the workaholic gene doesn’t win anymore. Its still there and I have to be intentional about gauging it’s activity but I’m not checking my work email. That is progress.
In conclusion, my friends are smarter than me and I should listen to them.