I love going to the beach. On a nice sunny day, I could sit on the beach for hours and just watch the ocean. I enjoy listening to the waves crashing on the shore and hearing the birds as they fly by. If I start to feel hot, I love standing in the water and letting the waves hit my body to cool off. Then I can go back to sitting and relaxing in the sun. It’s a simple rinse and repeat formula. And during all the time spent at the beach, life is great. That is, until I check my email.
Once I start scrolling through my email I can feel the stress weighing on my shoulders. It’s like being woken in the middle of the night by having a cold bucket of water thrown in your face. There’s a sense of panic and worry as I think about all of the things I need to do when I get back to work. The task list starts to pile up almost as high as the list of emails and messages that I have to read and respond to. Then I inevitably ask myself, was even worth it to be away in the first place?
If I didn’t go away or didn’t take a break, I wouldn’t have to deal with being behind or playing catch up. In fact, I wouldn’t have to make the mad scramble to finish things before I went on vacation just so I could go on vacation. I mean that all seems logical right?
Well it appears that Arianna Huffington might have a different point of view, as she expressed in her open letter to Elon Musk. What Arianna pointed out made a lot of sense. People aren’t machines, sleep is a necessity to function at a high capacity. We can’t be plugged into an outlet and take a power feed all day (regardless of how much coffee we drink).
True to form though, Elon did reply back via Twitter (at 2:32 am) stating that taking time off wasn’t an option, pointing out that “Ford and Tesla are the only two American car companies to avoid bankruptcy”.
And so here we are at the crossroads, who is right? Is it the one that is advocating for a better work/life balance, or is it the one that is working hard to ensure a business has a future? I don’t know if there’s a right or a wrong answer.
But here’s what I do know. In life there aren’t many guarantees. I’ve been at a company that was on top of the world, only to have it come crashing down and eventually becoming a shell of what it once was. I have seen friends give everything they have to companies only to be rewarded with their walking papers when push came to shove. I have seen people dedicate their lives to a business only to have it fail due to things beyond their control.
What we can control is how we choose to spend our time, and what we make priorities in our lives. I have a family, and “families that play together are happier”. But in order to play together, I have to make the time. So in the end, for me, breaks and vacations are totally worth it. What about you?