work-life balance and holidays

Working while on holiday

Are you looking for your place of work to become the environment where you have the most value? Are you attempting to get your emotional needs met at work? Is work taking up so much time and energy that you have no time for a life outside of the office?  If this rings true for you, that it might be time to stand back and address your work-life balance. It might be time to explore how to make sure your life away from the office has as much meaning and value as possible.

Meaning and purpose

Do we expect too much meaning and purpose from work?  Or are we allowing work to become a substitute for meaningful personal relationships?  A recent article in the Guardian raised a very interesting point about those who choose to take their work with them when they go on holiday.  In particular, the statement “Working on holiday is a defence mechanism. It helps us avoid facing up to the troubling prospect that we might not have a life outside work.” really hit home.

A similar idea appeared in a recent article on psychcentral.com which raised the notion of us wanting to be really busy and being able to tell others how busy we are.  It also raised the idea of being busy as a defence mechanism: “The reality is that although being busy has become something of a status symbol, striving to be busy is often both an excuse and a defence mechanism”.

What both articles suggest is that those who fall into either or both camps, are depriving themselves of really looking after their emotional needs.  Our work-life balance is clearly off-kilter. If you are unsure if you might be one of those, a really good tool to refer to is the Human Givens Emotional Needs Audit. This is a very simple questionnaire that asks you to rate the extent to which your emotional needs are being met.  Print out two copies and fill one in for your private life and one for your working life.

Working on holiday

Taking work on holiday can be perfectly acceptable.  As a Literature teacher, I used to always read the new texts for the following year over my Summer holiday, usually while lying on a beach somewhere.  But this did not feel like “work”.  I love to read.  My loved ones were with me all the time.  We chatted, swam and went sightseeing together.  It is when we are away with loved ones and yet are absent as we are always on our laptop or phone, that taking work on holiday becomes a problem. We are then totally disconnected from those around us. It is not good for us.  It is not good for those around us.

The way forward

So what can you do if you feel you have fallen into this trap?  I would suggest that you find a counsellor or coach who could help you address your work-life balance.  Someone who can help you take stock and rethink how to get those vital emotional needs met in a healthier way.

If you think I can help you, contact me or give me a ring.

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