Everybody loves a three-day weekend, except when we bring work with us. You might not consider yourself a “workaholic,” but chances are, you’ve struggled with work-life harmony at some point. Whether you have a day off for a holiday or you’re planning to finally use your PTO for a sweet vacation, it’s easy to miss the importance of clearing work from your mind. No matter how you feel about your job, it’s a regular part of your life, and your lifestyle depends on it, making it relevant beyond the hours you work. Even if you’re physically thousands of miles away from your job, it will still live in your mind rent-free. So what can we do to create boundaries that allow us to enjoy our time off and focus on meaningful events?
Some of us have jobs with certain routines that conclude at the end of the day, and some of us have jobs that involve progressive projects. Either way, we can’t guarantee things are tidy and resolved before heading out for the weekend. If you know you have a long weekend or vacation coming up, plan out the things you need to have “stabilized” before that time, but if it’s not picture-perfect, let it go the minute you leave the office (or log off your computer, if you work from home). Despite our best efforts, some things are ongoing or are dependent on a future resolution. For example, I’m definitely the type to feel a nagging sensation when I have something unfinished. However, as a writer, once I’ve finished one project, I’m brainstorming the next one. Plus, I’m somewhat dependent on the mood of my creative muscles, so even if there’s something I want to get out of the way ahead of time, there are times when it’s better to wait for the lightbulb moment rather than hastily check a topic off the list. When I rely on a feeling of conclusiveness to enjoy my life, it’s exhausting. Even if I didn’t have loose ends in my work life, I’d always have them in my personal life. In actuality, every day is a cliff-hanger, and peace is a choice we have to make.
“If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” - Matthew 6:30-33
It took a long time to realize that my “big” goals rely on my everyday habits. It seems so reasonable to push the rest of life aside when we’re chasing after exciting changes or struggling in our careers, but without consistency, we’ll lose our footing once we get to our destination. One of the most important habits we need is to relax and appreciate time with God and our loved ones. You might think you have more pressing issues than your mom’s Easter dinner or the ski trip you planned with your spouse, but when you treat those types of things as non-priority, that attitude becomes a foundation for your path. Your non-habits become habits. Instead, commit to your personal time the same way you would a work project. Anxiety will start to lose its clutch the more you make no-work-time a regular headspace.
Have you ever reached Sunday night and wondered what you did with the weekend? Even the most outgoing people with packed schedules have experienced the feeling of time wasted. In my experience, that feeling can be a motivator when I realize I want to do more than watch Netflix for 48 hours. But that feeling can also come from a place of manufactured discontentment. We think that we need to make the most of our free time by doing things that are super-fun or super productive. Then, when we don’t check every box, we move forward with disappointment and a sense of missed opportunity. The truth is it’s the small moments that impact our core. There’s a big difference between a once-a-year vacation and a day off, but here’s what they have in common: Time well spent is time listening to God. What is God’s purpose for your time? This usually won’t be a cut-and-dry answer; God gives us free will. Yet, when we pay attention, He does tell us where we need to grow. Sometimes it’s obvious if you need to focus on your family more during the holidays or stop staying out all night every weekend. Other times, it’s more nuanced.Think about the last time your time off wasn’t satisfying. What was the compass for how you spent your time? Maybe you tried to fit in all the things you’d been setting aside for the last month, or maybe you made plans to “house hop” to give everyone your time on a holiday. Or maybe you decided to wallow in anxiety because it was your one chance just to do nothing. The pressure of “wasted time” will never bring contentment. Investing in quality time will. When you acknowledge the value of simplicity, you’ll have more clarity to see what matters. Whether that’s on a selfless level, goal-based level, or in the realm of rest, you will find more peace and more focus on where you are.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.