By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Four out of 10 employees feel
their life is out of balance.
It's the vacation season. Earlier this month I spent a week with
a good friend at his lake house in Minnesota. He and his family spend two weeks
there each year taking in the sun and wake boarding. During the last several
days of the vacation, he kept saying, "I'm dreading going back to work." His
job as a doctor at a large hospital is very demanding. In fact, he plans to
retire in a year or so at the age of 53.
Dreading going back to work is a common problem. Just recently,
the Monday following his vacation, the Chief Executive Officer of one of my
clients said, "It's just terrible coming back to work. I wish I was still on
vacation." I hear this all the time.
Who wouldn't rather play than work? But how effective can
employees be if they would rather be somewhere else? How satisfied can people
be with their lives when they are constantly counting the days until their next
vacation and view their work as an annoying interruption to their personal
Here are some reasons why people dread going back to work:
- For Some People The Stress is Unbearable
The pressures associated with tyrannical bosses,
uncooperative coworkers, demanding customers, and tight timelines can be
oppressive. No one relishes returning to a stressful work environment.
- Lack of Work Life Balance
Many employees are totally consumed by the
demands of their work and don't have the time or energy to fully enjoy their
family or pursue their other interests. If vacations provide the only
opportunity for one to enjoy life, is it any wonder that employees dread going
back to work?
- Work Has Lost Its Meaning
When employees lose sight of why they work, they
begin to lose interest and enthusiasm. Some originally viewed their work as a
method to amass as much money as possible. Others saw it as an opportunity to
help others in need, or a chance to contribute to a very important cause. Still
others thought they would build their own business, or at least have an
opportunity to use their creativity.
All of these are valid reasons for working. However, losing sight
of what originally inspired them to take their current job may make them dread
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WHAT TO DO
It is possible to love your work so much that you
actually look forward to returning from vacation.
- Get Back to the Basics
Employees need to continually remind themselves
of why they are working. They should be asking, other than supporting my
family, why did I choose this line of work? Why did I decide to work for this
particular organization? Are those reasons still valid? What personal meaning
do I derive from work and how can I increase this meaning?
- Move to the Tension
This is a piece of advice my dissertation advisor
gave me many years ago. If something is bothering you, try to meet it head on.
Leaving it for another day only prolongs and intensifies the anxiety. If your
boss, a coworker, or a customer is causing you anxiety, try to immediately
confront the situation and reach a peaceful resolution.
- Blend Your Work and Personal Life Every Day
Many workers maintain a rigid separation between
their work and personal lives. Their personal activities are restricted to
exhausted nights and weekends. It doesn't have to be this way. Many employees
can integrate into their work running errands in the middle of the day,
watching their daughter's tennis match, and spending time talking to a good
friend. Those employees whose work situation does not allow them to take
advantage of these opportunities might want to consider negotiating a different
arrangement with their employer, working part time, changing jobs, or changing
- Don't Be Afraid to Change Your Situation
Don't become complacent in a difficult situation.
There are many employers and many other ways to make a living using the skills
and experience you currently possess. You only live once. Don't be afraid to
take some prudent risks with your work life so that you can improve your entire
I am very much
interested in your views on this topic.
Please reply with your comments and
suggestions to .
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