How to Enjoy Time OffThe struggle to leave work at work is getting worse because of the blurred lines between where your work life ends and your personal life begins.
Summer time is almost here! It’s that time of year when weekends, personal days and vacations are focused on because deadlines and “busy season” are in the rear view mirror. It’s that time when you get to reconnect with your family, friends and with yourself.
However if you are like most working moms, you may return to the office after time off feeling sluggish and more frazzled than before. You finally get stretches of free time to relax however when you come back to work after a weekend or a vacation, you often feel like you need another break.
So is the issue that your work is so challenging that it’s difficult to relax or that you didn’t unplug enough to actually recharge yourself? If you are a high achieving woman and feel you need to always be producing at a high level, then it’s safe to say you may not know how to enjoy time off.
If you can’t stop thinking of work when you are off, you are not alone. Many hard working moms, and accountants in general, have the same pattern of thinking.
This week I’m going to explore why you may be resisting enjoying time off and what you can do to change that.
Why you may be resisting enjoying time off
With the advancement of technology and the ability to work from home, many working moms are able to enjoy this flexibility. Over the years it has become one of the most sought after perks that a good number of women look for in their job search.
Even if you don’t work solely from home, no matter where you are, your cell phone makes it possible to do some form of work from pretty much anywhere. Whether you are on a train, at a doctor’s appointment or at home having dinner with your family, you have the ability to be connected to work.
For the past 15 years I have had the flexibility to work from home on Fridays and also on Saturdays during tax season. It has helped tremendously in my ability to balance my work life and my personal life.
The issue is not your ability to work from anywhere; the issue is what you believe about your need to work all the time because of your instant access to work from anywhere. The struggle to leave work at work is getting worse because of the blurred lines between where your work life ends and your personal life begins.
You also may work for a partner or boss who gets upset when you don’t answer an email right away, even during your time off. They may believe that since you could be available, you should be. These expectations can create a lot of drama when you think there may be a consequence associated with not being available 24/7.
Often the expectations of other people then create mind drama which turns into a worst-case scenario story like:
- If my boss is upset, I won’t get a good review mid-year
- If I don’t get a good review I won’t get a bonus
- If I don’t get a bonus I won’t be able to pay for my kids school
- If I don’t pay for the right school my kids will never get a good job
Your catastrophizing working mom brain will show you a long list of consequences for you not checking your email while you were having dinner with your family. Your drama queen brain will have you and your family homeless and living on the streets if you turn off your technology and enjoy your time off.
In the accounting profession there also tends to be a good deal of people pleasing because accountants are typically afraid of “getting in trouble” and fear that someone in authority will be upset. It can be especially difficult for female accountant moms who are struggling to balance their career with their family and not wanting to disappoint in either area of their lives.
Your pain-avoiding brain will tell you that your fears are rational and show you all the negative consequences of unplugging when you have time off. It will give you all the reasons that being available no matter what, is in your best interest.
Before you know it, you are rarely enjoying time off. You may spend $10,000 on a relaxing vacation and can’t understand why you feel like you need a vacation afterwards.
When you are hired to work for a company, you know rationally that your obligation is to get the work done in a timely manner but your irrational brain then tells you a different story. It tells you that you need to be afraid of negative consequences of enjoying time off when there’s a possibility that work needs to be done.
Let’s face it – there is NEVER a shortage of work to be done in the accounting profession! With numerous deadlines and extensions, there is plenty for accountants to work on all year round.
This is great news for the profession but what about for your ability to enjoy time off? How do you learn to appreciate and get the most out of that time?
How to enjoy time off
The issue with not feeling relaxed and rejuvenated after having time off, whether it’s for a weekend or for a week, is that you are taking your female accountant mom brain with you. If you haven’t learned to manage your mind, you haven’t learned how to manage your life.
You may believe that the way to reduce your stress and overwhelm is to get away from it all, but changing circumstances is not the solution. Learning how to enjoy time off requires managing your thoughts in order to experience the result of rejuvenation.
If you haven’t been enjoying your time off, it’s probably due to your unmanaged mind creating feelings of fear or guilt. These feelings then lead to not unplugging from the office.
Here are some of the thoughts my unmanaged mind would think when I was away from the office:
- You need to respond right away or the client will be upset
- How will it look to your boss if you don’t jump right away to reply to his message?
- You don’t have time to relax with your husband after dinner because I’m sure there are people in the office still working
- You work better under pressure
- If you aren’t being productive, you’re being lazy
If any of those thoughts resonate with you then I suggest that you first get clear about what’s going on in your own mind. Picture the last time you had time off, whether it was a night, a weekend or a vacation, and felt feelings of guilt, overwhelm or fear.
Once you have that specific time in your mind, spend a few minutes thinking about what you were thinking about. What were the thoughts you were having at the time that made you feel guilty, overwhelmed, fearful or any other negative emotion?
If you want to enjoy time off, and you could choose any emotion that you would want to feel during your time off, which emotion would you pick? Maybe you want to feel relaxed or deserving; perhaps you want to feel connected with a family member or yourself. The great news is that you can feel any of those emotions on purpose.
By choosing a thought that creates the desired feeling you have instant relief. Here are a few examples to help jump start this for you:
- If you want to feel relaxed instead of stressed when you have time off, you could think “All is well until I know differently”
- If you want to feel deserving of your time off instead of guilty, you could think “Part of producing at a high level includes taking a well-deserved break to reenergize”
- If you want to feel connected with your spouse instead of feeling bad for having a date night when other people may still be in the office working, you could think “My relationship with my spouse takes commitment and sometimes that commitment means making it a priority over everything else”
- If you want to feel connected with yourself instead of feeling judgmental of your choices, you could think “I am at my best when I take time for myself and my self-care”
Whether it’s taking a small break that doesn’t involve a phone screen or a TV screen, or whether it’s planning a 10 day trip to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, the world will not end if you take time off and enjoy yourself. You will probably find you feel more restored and are able to get a better level of work done when you get in the habit of giving yourself the gift of time off.
As the saying goes “All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl”. Your ability to be creative, produce at a high level and manage whatever comes your way is greatly diminished when you don’t unwind. Enjoying time off isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity so turn off your phone notifications, kick off your shoes and chillax because all is well in this moment.
- If you are a high achieving woman and feel you need to always be producing at a high level, then it’s safe to say you may not know how to enjoy time off.
- Even if you don’t work solely from home, no matter where you are, your cell phone makes it possible to do some form of work from pretty much anywhere.
- Your pain-avoiding brain will tell you that your fears are rational and show you all the negative consequences of unplugging when you have time off.
- You may believe that the way to reduce your stress and overwhelm is to get away from it all, but changing circumstances is not the solution.
- Whether it’s taking a small break that doesn’t involve a phone screen or a TV screen, or whether it’s planning a 10 day trip to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, the world will not end if you take time off and enjoy yourself.
If you’d like some help learning how to enjoy time off, please feel free to schedule a free mini session or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get to work together.