I make a point every year around my birthday to take some time for rest and reflection. This year, in light of some overwhelming personal struggles, it was really nice to take some time to reflect on how best I could maintain a better balance in my life.
Admittedly, I come from a long line of recovering workaholics. We work really hard at what we do for our vocations, mostly because we are passionate about our work. Sometimes that leads to unbalanced schedules and then unbalanced lives.
I have worked really hard, of late, to make sure this unbalancedness doesn’t happen. This past week of reflection reminded me of some of the principles I need to make sure this practice stays on track:
- Watch out for warning signs! “There’s no doubt your career is important: you spend more than half of your waking life either working or preparing to. But you can’t let it override everything else. For the sake of your mental and physical health—not to mention your friends and family—you’ve got to curb your workaholic tendencies.” – Laura Stack. Laura is absolutely right. When work is overriding everything else it is a signal that things are out of balance. Watch out for this important warning sign!
- Get a hobby. “Workaholics are out of balance,” says Bryan E. Robinson, a therapist in Asheville, North Carolina, and author of Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them. “They don’t have many friends. They don’t take care of themselves. They don’t have any hobbies outside of the office. A hard worker will be at his desk, thinking about the ski slopes. A workaholic will be on the ski slopes thinking about his desk.” (1) As someone who continues to work on finding the time and space for extracurriculars, this is a principle that I keep working on in my life. Attempting to find an activity that is not work related can help make the balance of life seem a little easier to manage.
- Take a break. It is not just a great song title from Hamilton; it is also something that leaders should do regularly. “More than half of American workers (55%) left vacation time unused in 2015.” (2) What I have found in taking my vacation time, even when I can’t afford to go anywhere, is that just the time away from the “grind” of the office allows the brain to enter into a different pace and flow that allows healing and refreshment. So, even if you have to do like me and stay home while the kids are in school and the spouse is at work, take a break.
Self-care is one of the top 5 things that church leaders need to do better. Every time I take a moment to take care of myself, I realize I am able to take care of my community a little bit better. I wish I listened to this lesson more. I hope you will learn from my gleanings from my week away. Blessings.