After graduating college, we said goodbye to many things. Our friends, our house/apartment, our favorite restaurants, our professors, the computer labs and libraries we spent the majority of our time, the free fitness center, our campus, the bars we frequented on a daily basis, and – last but not the least – the college town or city we lived in for four years. However, there is one thing we also said goodbye to without even realizing it: Our Personal Life.
If you were unemployed after college like me, you basically lived the dream – even though you were broke and freaked out on a daily basis that you would never find a job. You had no obligations. You had no deadlines. You could do whatever you wanted… whenever you wanted. When you finally were unemployed, you enjoyed it at first. You didn’t have many responsibilities… even though you thought you did. And working late? Not a problem! You had never done this before. It was new and exciting – and finally, you felt wanted.
Fast forward a few months later and you are dying for just one day to yourself. You barely have any time to work out anymore because you are so busy with work. And when you do bring yourself to the gym, you are tired, hungry, and so worn out that you can barely do anything. Then the weekend comes, and you have to cram your partying, errands, laundry, social time, and anything else you didn’t get to do while you were working all week into TWO days. Impossible. You need a break.
Your life has slowly taken a turn for the worst, and instead of revolving around you (like it should), it is now revolving around work. When you’re not at work, you’re checking your email. You’re thinking about what you have to do when you go in the next day. You’re tired from working. You’re basing your life around work, when you should really be basing work around your life… but that’s not how it works. Your “life” is now work.
You can’t have this go on forever. You’re way too young. You’re not even married yet, and you don’t have kids. So how do you make sure work isn’t completely taking over your life at such a young age?
Get enough sleep. Sure, since you’re young, you want to go out as much as possible. You want to stay up late hanging out with your roommates, talking to your significant other, watching TV, catching the end of the game, or going out for your friend’s birthday. Unfortunately, you can’t do all this anymore and have time to crash. In college, you got breaks… you were allowed to skip class without forfeiting pay or a job… you had time to relax. In the real world, you have to set time aside to get enough sleep… and unfortunately, to do that you will most likely have to give up a morning at the gym, miss a night out with friends, or watch your favorite late night show online the next day.
Take time off. When you first start a job, you probably won’t feel comfortable asking for days off. Don’t let this last. Everyone you work with is a person and has a life outside work (even though it may not seem like it). You need days to yourself. As I said, you can’t cram all your errands and social time into two days and still have time to relax. You’re allowed to take days off… and you’re allowed to go on vacation, too. Some companies make sure that you use all of your vacation time, especially if you will lose the time after the new year. Other companies do not have vacation policies at all, and let you “take off as many days as you want, as long as you get your work done.” Do not be fooled by this “awesome perk.” I worked at a company with this policy, and people rarely took off time because “you didn’t have to.” Guess what? You need time to yourself. As we all know, the weekend is not long enough.
Relax. Seriously. You’re life isn’t that hard, even though you may think it is. The fact that we still have the ability to go out on weekends (and sometimes during the week) means that “it’s not so bad.” Sure, we often have to work extra hours, but I highly doubt you’re working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And if you are – you shouldn’t be. While we’re young, take time to yourself as much as possible – because we can. We don’t have to worry about kids, serious finances, and (in most cases) managing other people. Like sleeping, taking time to relax might mean sacrificing a night out, a day of shopping, or a gym trip… but it is worth it. Wouldn’t you rather do more at the gym tomorrow than over work yourself today and barely be able to function tomorrow?
20-somethings: What do you do in order to separate work from your personal life?