I’ve always admired how hard my dad works. He has owned and run a roofing and general contracting business throughout my entire life. And his commitment to putting in long hours every day allowed me to live quite comfortably growing up.
What I admire more than his work ethic, however, is that he has always managed to carve out time to enjoy life.
I experienced the best vacations as a child. Every year, my family went snow skiing, to Disney World and other amusement parks, to various resorts along the East Coast, boating, snorkeling or on some other adventure. There was always time for fun. Sometimes the “fun” was a family affair. Other times, my dad just hung out with his buds. Regardless, the point is that he made time.
I consider myself a hard worker too. I’ve always worked hard — in school and in part time positions — and now my dedication to the job directly affects my livelihood. I’m a brand new, full-time PR professional. But I’ve recently learned something about myself. Even though I know what a vacation/work life balance looks like, I don’t know exactly how and when to implement it.
As young professionals, we need to prove ourselves. If we aren’t willing to go above and beyond now, when we are first diving into our careers, we probably never will. Yet at the same time, the “older” and “wiser” tell us to enjoy youth while we can. Our 20′s are going to fly by…
Does anyone else get confused by these mixed signals?
I graduated two weeks ago and I’m proud to say I celebrated with my first real vacation since college began. Sure, I’ve taken mini road trips and had fun weekend getaways along the way, but this was the real deal. I went home for my best friend’s wedding and then embarked on a cruise to the Bahamas. I spent time with friends I haven’t seen in years. It was wonderful.
But I found myself glued to my iPhone those few days before I got on the ship. My new clients were emailing me, asking questions, requesting services and I wasn’t about to tell them I was too busy to do my job. It didn’t matter to me that I was technically “on vacation.” I even left the beach one morning to talk with a client on Skype. It was the responsible thing to do.
I still had a blast on my trip. I didn’t have to neglect any maid of honor duties to work and I certainly managed to disconnect during the cruise. But the experience made me realize that even though I needed rest and relaxation, I wasn’t sure if I had earned it yet.
I couldn’t be more excited about life right now. I love my new career. I have a great family, boyfriend and awesome friends. And now that I only have one job to focus on, I’m determined to start figuring out how to balance everything a little better.
So to all you professionals out there, I ask, what do you do to make sure it’s not all work and no play?