Now that we are more than seven weeks into 2014, I’d like to share my progress:
Re-committing to keeping a gratitude journal:
I have faithfully written in my journal which has evolved into much more than a gratitude journal. I had kept a journal when I was younger, but after the third time someone found and read them (snoopy siblings, roommates and lastly a boyfriend) I tossed them all out and vowed to never write in or keep a journal again. My gratitude journals the past few years consisted of a few sentences some of which were written in code – which I was unable to decipher upon re-reading. My journal writing this year quickly evolved into a full-fledged journal. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I missed journal writing and by how much I was learning from it. One of the themes that stood out was how overwhelmed by guilt I am – especially guilt from not spending enough time with family and friends and for not getting enough work done at work. This has helped me realize that in addition to getting caught up at work perhaps I need to work on eliminating my feelings of guilt.
Control over possessions and time:
Buy what I need and get rid of what I don’t
Another reason I had so many unused vacation days last year was because my husband who had a strong suspicion he would be laid-off for a few months in 2014 refused to take a real vacation. His company allows him to roll-over 200 hours of unused vacation time, so he banked all 200 hours. Sure enough he was laid-off in early January. The old me would have immediately shifted to under-buying and survival mode upon hearing this news. Instead, I reminded myself we had planned for this and that he will be getting a full pay-check for the first five weeks. Then he will be eligible for unemployment. Plus, we do have a sizable emergency fund. So I allowed myself to continue buying what I needed and to not let myself waste energy stressing about this.
My husband’s lay-off comes with a welcome surprise:
In years past, in addition to working on Saturdays during January I would come home and have to clean my house. This year with my husband home all week he cleans the house. In addition, he runs errands, prepares the meals and takes care of our dogs. Not having to think about these things frees up my brain power so I can focus more at work and get more done. Kerry at Breadwinning Mama was so struck by my comment about this on her post trying to hang with the boys in the office she included it in her post the invisible task list.
Teach and delegate:
I tried to delegate to one of my employees during January – actually it wasn’t really delegating since I was requiring her to complete her portion of the year-end work rather than me doing it for her. This didn’t go well. She immediately became stressed and fought every step. Instead of looking things up herself – which she is capable of doing - she was constantly in my office asking me to look things up for her. She would then ask the same questions over and over. I began wondering if she isn’t experiencing early stages of dementia. Finally, I told her she had to write my answers down because I didn’t have time to keep repeating myself. It was a struggle, but she did manage to complete her portion of that work.
I asked my boss if I could hire a part-time person in 2014. Of course he said no, instead he prefers to have everyone work overtime through-out the year. He must have discussed my request with our President because on two separate occasions our President commented out of context that he did not want to add additional staff to my department.
I still can’t be out of the office without everyone having a meltdown:
Last week, I stepped out of the office for three hours to attend a seminar with one of our VP’s. While at this seminar our VP received a text that I needed to call the office immediately; an employee needed an obscure license number for one of the states we do business in. I told them I had no idea where to find this number and that I’d look into it when I returned. When I got back not only did I have three voice messages from three different employees asking for this number, there was a message from my husband informing me someone from work had called our house looking for me - they needed a license number. Guess what – the manager at the office in this state did manage to find this number without my help.
I take my first vacation day of the year:
The worst thing about my husband being off this time of year is that I am too busy at work to take a vacation with him. One of the things he wanted to do while off was to meet with our financial planner who likes to see the two of us together. I picked a Friday after the audit and told him to make an appointment - I would take a vacation day. Then during a meeting the day before I was to be off, our President expressed displeasure that I had not completed and distributed our departmental financial statements. In the past, this conversation would have prompted me to cancel at least a portion of my planned vacation day. Knowing how much I needed this day along with realizing how disappointed my husband would be, I decided to continue with our plan. That night I wrote in my journal:
I will not feel guilty
This is easier said than done, I tried my best to stay in the present and enjoy my day, but every now and then guilty thoughts of work would pop into my head. Then that night as I was reviewing my journal, I came across my previous week’s to-do list. I realized I had accomplished every item on that list and then some. Completing those departmental financial statements are on my to-do list for next week. By reviewing each day’s entries I was actually surprised by how much work I had completed. This snapped my out of my funk - I don’t need to feel guilty. I then plotted out my to-do list for next week and was happy to realize I should have plenty of time to get all of my major projects done.
I then set a goal for my department to be completely caught up by April 1st. I created a weekly plan that I will present to our staff on Monday. Perhaps, by setting goals and communicating them to the department there will be less stress for everyone involved.
In summary, to not feel guilty when taking a vacation I need to select a time-frame that is not disruptive to my department - long week-ends work the best, create a to-do list then not worry about projects that are not on the list and avoid checking email or answering questions while off – more than one of my previous vacations have been spoiled by answering email.
How do you keep from feeling guilty when taking a vacation?