One of the lessons I learned when I finished my MBA is that people value things differently. I always knew this in some context, but I think it became more apparent when a new group of graduates go back out into the world. We all seemed to be starting new lives with a variety of challenges ahead of us. What we do with our time shows what is important, and if it isn’t a conscious decision for you now, it should be.
Most people don’t get extended time off once they start working. “Enjoy this time now, it’s the last you’ll get until you retire.” While that may be the grim reality, especially if you don’t earn a lot of vacation days or “vacation” usually means “home improvement project,” it can be beneficial to think about the lack of time you’ll have in the future.
If you consider there is going to be a constraint on your personal time, you might be more willing to think about how you’ll get value out of it.
My classmates are almost like real-world subjects to this concept of value and time. Some have jobs lined up, so they are really enjoying the break they have until that first day in the office. Others are pursuing additional degrees (yep, PhDs and law school), so they are traveling or working summer jobs. Then the people who are still job searching are filling their time with friends and family, keeping a supportive network close while they face a challenge many Americans face as they keep applying to positions. Other people have major life events happening, with pictures of weddings and babies decorating my Facebook news feed.
When you have a few weeks, or months depending on your situation, to do what you want to do, what decision do you make? For me, I decided I wanted to spend time with my family after a few weeks of down time in Blacksburg. My parents are important to me, and besides, it is way more fun to make a mess in the kitchen attempting Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon if your mom is there with you.
Do you want to travel and experience new adventures? Are people and forging relationships important to you? How about challenging yourself to learn something new?
Think about what you value so that when you have the time, you get something out of it. If it is something that energizes you, you shouldn’t need a vacation from your vacation. Or if you are purposeful in your planning, then you won’t suddenly lose half of your time off before you realize it’s Wednesday. We all need those days when we get sucked into streaming TV shows online (trust me, I know), but at the same time, consider what you also enjoy that you might be missing.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider building a Pinterest board. I know there’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor about people building boards for weddings or vacations that will never happen, but you could realistically build a board of To Dos when you do get time off. You might find all kinds of other neat ways to spend your time when you see what others really value.