Monday, December 19, 2005
With stress-related illnesses on the rise, maybe we could all benefit from a timeshare vacation.
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck… well, you know how the rest of that saying goes.
So what if the work you do every day does not “look” like work? After all, manual labor is a thing of the past for many of us. Instead, we spend our days in comfortable (or quasi-comfortable) offices; sitting in ergonomic chairs in front of ergonomic keyboards, talking on wireless headsets.
But just because you are safe, warm, and dry doing whatever it is you do each day, doesn’t mean it’s not labor. Whether you are bent over a plow or bent over a keyboard, the job you do day in and day out can be mind-consuming, life-defining, frequently stressful, and for many people, downright tedious. On top of that, regardless of your chosen occupation, you are likely to spend more time at work in 2006 than you did in 2005.
According to Harvard economist Juliet B. Schor, author of The Overworked American, the average worker in the US “is now on the job an additional 163 hours (annually) or the equivalent of one month per year,” when compared to workers in 1969.
A study by the National Sleep Foundation tells us that we are averaging six more hours on the job per week than workers did just ten years ago. And nearly 40% of Americans work 50-plus hours, every single week.
Even if your career is as rewarding as mine, this still sounds like a challenging itinerary. With this kind of schedule, how does anyone manage to accomplish anything?
For the most part, we have eliminated several hours of much-needed sleep from our daily routines. And we’ve filled in any leftover gaps with caffeine. There is only one reason that Starbucks can justify building a coffee shop on every corner in America—we’re paying for them.
In December 2004, CBS News Health Watch reported that 87% of adults and 76% of children consume caffeine in their daily diets, up from 82% of adults and 43% of children in 1977. And in case coffee, colas, and chocolates with natural caffeine won’t do the trick, we artificially add it to candy, mints, gum, water—even bath soap!
2005 is almost over. You cannot reclaim the hours of lost sleep or the time you logged with your nose to the grindstone. But 2006 holds possibilities for change, if you make the effort to make it happen.
Relaxing vacations won’t drop into your life accidentally. Make a plan. Schedule time to do nothing more than lie on the beach, hike a trail in some woodsy national park, or savor a sunset across a bluer-than-blue lake. Schedule time to reacquaint yourself with your spouse, partner, and children. Timeshares can be an investment in your quality of life.
If you’re like me, your life is your work. However, don’t we all work toward the goal of being able to enjoy our free time?