We are all led to believe that success is determined by your job, how much money you make, what your social status is, and even how you look. Praise is given to those who work overtime to relentlessly climb the ladder, the people who pack their schedules, who volunteer on the weekends, and overall work without rest. On the other hand, those who choose to live a life of leisure are questioned on where their ambition is and why they’re wasting time. It’s difficult for many of us to find balance in our lives as we are under constant pressure to be doing the next best thing and encouraged to be utilizing every moment of the day.
Our identities are based on being hard workers. We believe that without working hard, we are not successful and lazy, which encourages us to continue overworking ourselves in order to maintain our idea of prosperity.
For many of us, this mindset comes at a huge cost: our mental health.
Many find themselves completely exhausted from society’s constant reminder that we aren’t doing enough. Suddenly, it becomes obvious that you’ve overfilled your schedule and no longer have time for yourself. Perhaps you even begin to miss out on important moments such as birthday parties, lunch dates with your friends, and your children’s school events. These sacrifices add up quickly.
Take a moment to consider what really adds value to your life. Maybe what makes you really happy is taking a walk every day, spending time in your garden, taking your children to the park, or visiting your favorite cafe to read a book. Think about what you want to do for yourself, such as learn to speak another language, take a dancing class, go back to school, or practice yoga.
Now, reflect on how you currently spend your time. Do you like your job? Are you spending enough time on your hobbies and what’s important to you? Unfortunately for many of us, we can’t say that we’re satisfied with the way we spend our time. Everybody could use more time to do the things we love, but there are a fixed amount of hours each day has to offer.
The key to a happier life and having more freedom to do the things you love is to work less.
Setting boundaries is the best way for you to begin to step away from a toxic work environment that demands too much of your personal time and emotional energy. When you stop checking work emails on the weekend, say no to staying late, and skip on the after-work drinks that you actually don’t want to go to, you’ll begin to have the time to prioritize the things you’d rather spend time doing.
Setting aside more time for yourself and stepping away from work takes a huge shift in the way we identify. Enjoying a morning where all you do is make yourself a cup of coffee and dive into a book will become an activity that’s praised just as much as working a fifty-hour week. Spending your weekend planting flowers becomes just as fulfilling as finishing a project. Although society hasn’t caught up to the notion of the benefits of leisure time, if we all begin to take a step towards making it a priority and encourage others to do the same, we can make a shift in having it be the new normal.
When we begin to appreciate and recognize the importance of relaxation, spending time with our friends and family, and doing the things we love, it will become obvious that working ourselves tirelessly is not all it turned out to be. Money comes, and money goes, but the memories that you’ll create over the years are priceless.