By Vernon A Williams
The United States is the most overworked developed country in the world. The latest statistics from the Center for American Progress have examined the claim and there is no doubt about it. There is no place where you can compare yourself to workers in the US. A few points to digest:
- At least 134 countries have legal limits on the number of hours citizens can work per week. The US is not one of them. Here, 85.8 percent of men and 66.5 percent of women work well over 40 hours a week.
- There is no federal law requiring employers to provide sick leave, and the US is the only developed country in the world that does not have statutory annual leave, according to the report.
- Workplaces in most countries allow around 20 days of vacation per year. In France, Great Britain and Finland, employees get 30 days (a whole month). In the US, workers have an average of just 13 days of vacation per year.
Here’s the worst part. Even when Americans get paid time off, they don’t use it all. And if they do take vacation days, you probably won’t be shocked to learn that many of them refuse to leave their jobs completely behind. More than half of American workers say they actually felt GUILTY for using their deserved vacation time.
Enough. We need a break. Too many of us try to squeeze 25 hours into a day and are desperate to add an eighth day to the week. But what makes us think that we should advance uninterruptedly when our divine Creator cherished the wisdom of at least one day of rest from the beginning?
In the last year and a half of pandemic trauma, we should have learned that we are not in control. No matter how educated you are, how talented you consider yourself, how charismatic you may be, how famous or influential you are, no matter how good looking you are or your net worth, there is someone taller than you or me.
It matters less that you are obsessed with having all the answers, always hitting all the exact points in life with perfect timing, always winning in every situation, either in the vanity of your eyes or in the perception of those who do too far fight hard to impress.
Do not get me wrong. The pursuit of excellence is not only dignified, but an expression of gratitude for all the gifts and promises God has for you.
This message is not about trying less. It’s about perspectives. Perhaps this period of adjustment should better help us to organize our perspectives, to occasionally not only measure “what” we are doing, but to ask “why”.
If you are not humiliated by the enforced isolation of an entire planet, then your ego is off the list. What we do must be more than just us. Not only after we’ve gone, but while we’re here, we’ll be judged on what we’ve done, as Jesus said, “for my little ones.”
So don’t stop striving to be the best or pursue those dreams, just expand them. Include other people’s opportunities in the game plan. Lift when you stand up.
This doesn’t require losing focus or getting distracted by people, places, or things that contradict your dream. Determination does not necessarily have to go hand in hand with arrogance. Walk with the quiet confidence that comes with knowing that with God you are nothing, but with Him all things are possible.
Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself. It simply means thinking less about yourself.
Some people, and you know who they are, will be shocked and disappointed to find, after spending their lives tackling mountainous challenge after mountainous challenge, that only by believing in that mustard seed, that mountain, did they have the power just master moving and it would be done. The hardest path is not always the most rewarding. We can make it harder than it has to be.
Again, a key aspect of this new attitude is getting away from work and going outside, the very activity we weren’t allowed to do at this time last year. Now that you have that freedom again, you’re going out more than you did last year.
In Northwest Indiana, enjoy the crashing waves lapping the sands of Marquette Beach or the natural majesty of Indiana Dunes National Park.
In Chicago, explore Navy Pier, the Sox or Cubs ballparks, and the vast shoreline of Lake Michigan.
In Indianapolis, stroll along the downtown canal and White River State Park, try boating or fishing at Eagle Creek Park.
The bottom line is that the oxygen can flow again outdoors.
For all the volatility of the weather, one undeniable attribution is
bute of Midwest living is the range of options within a few hours drive. Many people are not yet eager to fly more than necessary or to board any cruise ship at this point.
Therefore, in this part of the country, “STAYCATIONS” that allow for exciting travel without having to venture far from home are a great option. Get in the family car, rental car or SUV and set the GPS to destinations in Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, St. Louis or anywhere in between.
And forget the guilt. Billionaire J. Paul Getty once said, “The graveyard is full of irreplaceable people.” Trust and believe the workplace can go a few days without you.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on a myriad of subjects including social issues, human interests, entertainment and profiles of people driving change in an ever-evolving society. Williams is a 40-year-old veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected]