September 2006 – Vol. III, Issue 9
Feature Article: Is Leisure Important?
According to a 2005 Harvard Institute of Economic Research study, Americans lag far behind European countries in the number of vacation days taken in a year. The average working American works approximately 46.2 weeks of 52 per year, while the French work 40.5 and the Swedish just 35.4 weeks. In addition, Americans tend to take less vacation than they?re entitled to… letting on average four vacation days lapse per year (Gray, Tim. “Gimme a Break.” Sky, August 2006: 47, 49.)
Even when we do go on vacation, is it really a vacation? We tend to be connected to email, voice mail, cell phone, or even take work projects with us! Admit it, you’re probably guilty. I am. And if you don’t stay connected to work, you have a fear that you’ll be snowed under when you return to the office.
Perhaps the maxim is true, “Americans live to work, but Europeans work to live.” Consider this… Americans can afford bigger cars and houses, but have limited time to enjoy them. Europeans choose to work less and thus can afford more leisure.
What does leisure mean to you? What is its purpose? Do you make leisure a priority? How?
If leisure time is not a priority, what is the impact on your life? Your health? Your relationships?
Do your vacation days yield the results you desire? What do you hope to create with those vacation days – for yourself, for your family members or loved ones?
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, we’re coming to the end of the summer, which is a traditional time for vacations and time away. I suggest you look forward now to your next vacations and to next summer. What will your leisure time look like and feel like? What will you create, and what will the impact of leisure be?