To say that I am overcommitted would be an understatement. I come from a long line of people that take on way more than a normal workload. Right now I work full time, I am taking more classes than a full time graduate student, I volunteer, I'm in a relationship, I'm raising a puppy, I'm in a 12-week training course with that puppy, and I’m trying to maintain some semblance of a social life. This has been a huge challenge for me, and the only thing keeping me sane is my google calendar that is synced with my to do list.
I've never been good at setting boundaries. I'm a “yes man,” never wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings or step on anyone’s toes. This is a huge problem that I am dealing with, but I'm not alone. Many adults find it challenging to say the word that comes so easily to toddlers. When you think of young children, the most prominent word in their vocabulary is “no.” What happens between childhood and adulthood that makes that word a dirty word? Most of the time if I absolutely have to say no to someone, instead of saying no, I come up with a ridiculous excuse.
I recently read a study that said that people can thank Millennials for their loss of vacation time. There is an increasing pressure to perform at a higher standard and this pressure is making people over commit, giving up their vacation time to appear driven. No one wins in this situation. There is a popular commercial for Twix running right now that showcases the left Twix and right Twix competition. In the ad, left Twix’s factory workers are working late into the night because they see that the factory workers at right Twix’s factory are still working. Eventually we find out that the right Twix workers are doing the same thing and they are stuck in a cycle of trying to outwork the other factory.
This behavior is unhealthy, but it is becoming the new normal. People feel like they need to work 70 hour work weeks to stay ahead. Vacations are necessary and it is important to take breaks. Last year, more than 55% of Americans did not take all of their available vacation days. The problem with this is that Americans already receive less vacation time than other countries, so Americans are working way more than necessary. I don’t want my life to look like this. I want to be successful without having to work my life away, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem like an option. Boundaries between work life and personal life have blurred, and people now take their work life home with them. Americans need to reevaluate their relationship with breaks. Once we change our attitude towards taking breaks and setting boundaries, we can begin to become less stressed as a nation.