What Are You Doing This Weekend? (Hint: Don’t Say “Work.”)
A few years ago, when I was still running a business, I made the naive assumption that nothing in it could function without me. I worked days, nights, weekends, and any other time you could make up in between. My work weekend was also split, making it difficult to take any time off for myself since Saturdays were a pretty crucial work day of the week. It became almost a game (one that made me sickeningly proud) to see how many days in a row I had worked without taking even one day off. I think the eventual tally stopped somewhere around 90…making it almost one-third of that year one where I had not taken a break.
“It’s fine,” I would say. “It’s business. This is how people get ahead. Sometimes you have to work harder than everyone else and that means not taking time off. Plus, I love my job. That’s what makes it easier to do!”
Except I was lying. Or I at least found out later that working so much and so hard would lead one to eventually despise/disdain/loathe/eternally hate one’s job.
Yes, when you are starting out in business or trying to build an empire, you will need to put in more time than just the standard 40 hour workweek. But make no mistake: working 7 days a week, 365 a year does not make you a stronger or smarter person. It does not provide you with battle scars to show off–at least not the kind you want to show off, anyway. Things it could eventually do instead: Ruin your immune system, deprive you of a normal social life, make you hate your job and everyone in your office, throw you into a deep depression, etc etc etc. Time off is important, and most of us have it built in with two consecutive days every week.
So what do you do with that time? Jacquelyn Smith over at Forbes examines in detail 14 activities that successful people make it a point to engage in on the weekends. Here is one of my favorites:
3. Pursue a passion. “There’s a creative director of a greeting card company who went back to school to pursue an MFA because of her love of art,” Kurow says. “Pursuing this passion turned into a love of poetry that she now writes on weekends.”
“Successful people make time for what is important or fun,” Egan adds. “They make space for activities that add to their life balance.”
I had often said of myself during this way-too-busy time in my life that I don’t even know what my hobbies are anymore…they were something I think I sacrificed when I also decided to offer up sleep and social life on the altar of careerism. Once I found a new job and started taking my weekends seriously, I realized that there still were passions in me to be had, including yoga and professional football. It may not be anything crafty, but it makes me a person I enjoy that feels like I have something to experience in this world besides work. And every weekend during the football season, anyone who knows me knows that I take that time pretty seriously (early game on Sunday? Early to bed on a Saturday–I don’t care what kind of party we are at.)
When Richard Eisenberg interviewed Stephen Pollan, he had this to say about career and personal fulfillment:
You should focus on a career only as a stream of income. Your employer is not concerned about your fulfillment. Anyone looking for career fulfillment is going to be frustrated because employers are not out there to make us happy.
Look for fulfillment through your romantic life, through travel, through personal relationships, not on the job. It ain’t there.
Realizing quickly that your job is not what defines your life is likely one of the biggest keys to maintaining success as the years go on. Taking your weekends to focus on self-reflection, personal fulfillment, and rejuvenation (check out our Saturday Stay In Bed Stimulus for great ways to help with that!) means that you are treating yourself well holistically. Anyone that does that knows that they are able to approach their work week with a clearer head and a lighter heart.
I joked with a co-worker on Friday that I always make plans to be productive with my weekends, but then brunch and mimosas happen on Saturday morning and it’s all downhill from there. I know now that I may not be as productive as I’d like on the weekends…but I have them now. And I gotta tell you, I enjoy my job and my personal life a whole lot more as a result.