The other day I texted a friend of mine who is supposed to be hiking and sightseeing through Montana and Wyoming with his family over a 10-day period. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: How are the views?
Him: Not much different from the office. Have to finish some reports before we leave the hotel this morning.
Me: So what was the point of your vacation?
Him: I’ll get to it. 10 days…long time away from work. Some things have to be completed.
My friend works in a stressful occupation that requires a lot of his time and attention. It’s difficult for him to unplug, especially with today’s technology that makes everyone instantly accessible nearly all the time. I’m not grousing about the convenience. After all, we’re living in the cradle of the industry that created it here in Silicon Valley. We all take pride in our careers and how we perform.
I can only imagine what it’s like for a software engineer who’s new to the country brought here specifically for your work skills. The pressure must be significant, even beyond the culture of hard work that exists in America and specifically in Silicon Valley. The U.S. offers less paid vacation
than many other wealthy countries and U.S. workers still don’t use all their time
, or they feel guilty about doing so.
But I think you have to turn off the screen and focus on the people and places right in front of you sometimes. I frame this in terms of family vacation because these are often the only times we have the opportunity to dedicate our full attention to each other in our busy lives.
Balancing life and work requires effort during everyday moments, too. Go out to dinner and see how many conversations never start because people bury their noses in their smartphones. Missed opportunity. Distractions and obligations can quickly eat up the time that could be spent with family and friends. Squealing children become head-strong teenagers and soon the house is quiet. Your vibrant puppy running with you on the beach one day becomes sleepier and gray in the muzzle.
Enjoy your loved ones, and make an effort to do so every day. When it’s all said and done, you’re not likely to say you wish you’d spent more time at the office.