If you have the opportunity to talk to somebody who grew up in a European country who is now living in the United States and ask them what they find most different about American culture many would quickly respond that Americans don’t take time off from work like Europeans do. With America’s go-go-go attitude we’ve become obsessed with work and many Americans actually leave paid vacation days on the table at the end of the year, even if they can’t carry them over to the next year. A handful of TED talk speakers have tackled the American aversion to taking vacation head on and have some insightful things to say that hopefully will convince you to take advantage of your leisure time and come back to work better than ever.
- Take a Daily Vacation, Even For A Few Minutes
This might sound a little crazy, but you can benefit hugely from taking mini vacations. The idea is to take 10-20 minutes each day and completely unplug from all distractions. When you unplug from emails, texting, video games, TV, or even reading a book you can settle in and relax and practice being mindful. Just sitting back and observing your own thoughts each day can help you get perspective on your day and figure out what’s important.
- Balance Work With Play
Everybody knows that you should try to find balance between your work and personal life but in this TED talk the speaker made a slightly different point. He said that if you look at the most interesting people who report their lives were fulfilling that they say to balance work with play and with love and try to find each in equal proportions. A big part of balancing work play and love is to take time off from work to ensure that you focus time appropriately for play and love. If you’re working 75% of the time you’re bound to neglect your love life or your leisurely passions.
- Try A Sabbatical
The idea of taking a Sabbatical used to be quite common in business and academia but has slowly fallen out of fashion. Recently some professionals have been re-discovering the value of taking a sabbatical. By taking a sabbatical you can avoid burnout and come back to your job brimming with new ideas and insights on your business. Most people can’t imagine taking an entire year off, but even taking 3-6 months away from work to pursue a passion outside of work can help you rediscover your motivation to work hard and innovate in your role at work when you return.
- Take It Slow
Our work and personal lives have evolved to require us to be on demand nearly all the time. With smartphones and email, text and twitter it’s easy to respond to questions right away and this tends to lead to mistakes and a constant feeling of stress because you’re always “on”. Being mindful of this culture and the demands that our always-connected society places on you and choosing to slow down can create opportunity for you to rise to the top by providing thoughtful responses to work and family demands. An added benefit to slowing down is that you can take time to enjoy your life instead of hurrying through it.
- Find and Enjoy Beauty
People tend to think of taking time off as going on vacation but just taking time to enjoy beauty in the world can be equally as beneficial. Beauty is more than something you observe, it’s an emotion that you feel. Whether you enjoy paintings by the masters, sculptures, or even going out in nature discover what kind of beauty you connect with and make time to enjoy that beauty in your daily life.