Thursday, February 3, 2011

How valuable is your time?

By Shelagh Braley, COO

I’ve been thinking lately about time. How much of it do we spend annoyed with our place in the world, worrying, spinning our wheels? How much of it will we want back when we check the rearview mirror?

It’s all over the news and blogosphere now, that the American Dream has officially stopped delivering. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s newest study, America ranks lowest in paid annual leave, averaging 13 days a year to other wealthy nations’ paid time-off average of 20-35 days. And if that isn’t bad enough, Americans don’t even use it all. “Only 57% of American workers take their full vacation time, often fearing losing their jobs or not being able to keep up with their workload,” the study says.

That strong sense of duty and responsibility made America stand out and succeed in the global economy. Previous generations worked hard and kept striving through challenging times with the faith that their admirable work ethic would pay off. And until the most recent generation, it did.

Then work became harder, the hours longer, for less pay and less vacation time. American capitalism is no longer sharing the wealth. The International Labor Organization just last week released a study that said America is No.1 in productivity and hours worked, yet dangerously low in compensation and vacation time. As a result, American workers are trying to fend off an endless cycle of overload that has resulted in massive societal malaise: disconnection, consumption, obesity, depression, financial bankruptcy—and total dissatisfaction.

Time to re-imagine the dream.

It starts with rejecting a life on autopilot: working, studying, stressing, going to the mall and pretending it’s a fun day out, retreating to the escapist world of Farmville and the mundane reality of others’ lives to make ourselves feel better.

As you assess your level of personal fulfillment, take a breath. Daydream!

Read through some of the awesome stories of other members’ life experiences on, and most importantly, apply some of the ways they have improved their attitudes and their circumstances. Once you start planning, you’re back in the driver’s seat. That’s all it takes.

Focus on the practical steps to reach your major life goals, and you will recapture the control to live the life *you* dream about.

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