December 17, 1999
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Here we are, a week from Christmas. It is so hard to
believe that another year is almost over. It does provide a time for a little
reflection, though. Reflection on what you accomplished, what slipped away
and what to concentrate your energies on in the coming year. The fact that
this year is also the beginning of a new century only makes us all more
aware of the passage of time and how important it is to get as much from
our time as possible.
Something for yourself
Have you wanted a new PalmPilot to carry your contacts and appointments?
Are your clothes looking a bit ragged after climbing around behind racks
of networking equipment or under the desks of your computer users? Have
you been working so hard that your children point and ask your spouse
who that unfamiliar person is? Sometimes we can get so caught up in the
act of making a living that we forget the living part.
In the next few weeks do something for yourself. This can mean anything
from shopping for some new clothes to taking your kids to the park for
an hour or two. Take a few minutes to reconnect with who you are outside
of your career. I have written in the past about the importance of defining
yourself in a variety of ways. This is the perfect time of year to try
it. Do you think you might like to do some woodworking? Drop a few hints
to your spouse and children about that new router available at Sears.
Do you like to go hiking? Gather up the family, or go by yourself, to
a local outdoor area. Breathe in air that hasn't been processed through
air-conditioning and neighboring cubicles. You will be pleasantly surprised
at the effect this has on you.
Doing less in order to do more
While it may seem a foreign concept getting away from your job can be
the best way of doing better at your job. I see too many friends who are
scared to take vacation because they feel their job might be danger. They
slave away for long hours, day after day, week after week, getting progressively
more and more tired. Eventually it takes a nasty cold, a bout with the
flu or worse to get them to take a few days off. Imagine how much more
productive you might be if you regularly took some time for yourself each
and every week. Imagine coming to the office refreshed instead of resigned
to another back-breaking week of endless toil.
As you all probably know, there is a relatively new law that allows workers
to take several weeks of family leave when they have a family medical
situation such as a new baby or caring for a sick family member. Legislators
worked hard to provide this option and yet so few people make use of it.
Too many people feel that they will be punished for taking time for their
family regardless of the legality of it. Too many employers subtly (and
not so subtly) communicate to their employees that just because they have
to provide family leave doesn't mean they like employees to use it..
To me, this is a warning sign that the company you are working for is
less than ideal. Any smart company knows that an employee who is worrying
about a new baby is not working at their highest level. Why not give them
the opportunity to get through one of the most stressful moments in their
lives and come back confident and refreshed instead of sleep-deprived
and prone to errors.
While the holidays can be hectic they often yield small pieces of time
that can be used for contemplation. Perhaps you have a few moments between
putting the kids to sleep and heading off to bed yourself. I find that
I enjoy sitting in the living room with only the lights from the Christmas
tree to be a wonderful Zen-like experience. It gives me a moment to decompress
and let my mind wander over all that has happened this year. Spend a few
minutes thinking about the good parts of this year. Where do you wish
you could spend more time? What activities made you the happiest? What
is your vision of the best work and home life possible? Can you get there?
Can you get close?
May the New Year bring the career you most desire.