Finding the Correct Balance Between Leisure and Work

“All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy”, the old saying goes. Many people adapt this line to fit what they see as their reality: “Too much play and not enough work make Johnny a poor one.” They justify working all the time, with few vacations and little time off. When they retire, they have a problem, as they have not established a good balance of work and leisure.Leisure time recharges you and can make you more motivated and focused at work. However, many small business owners with a strong work ethic consider planning for leisure time a luxury they cannot afford. Ironically, they may waste time by almost welcoming distractions, but never schedule much time off with their families, for a vacation, or a for day of down time. It is easy to justify this when you are working building a business, trying to make it in a tough economy, working with a down-sized staff. You think that when you retire, it will be different.You assume you will travel, socialize, and pursue hobbies in retirement. Unfortunately, old habits die hard. Folks who work 24/7 find new jobs, start businesses, or get into a pattern of heavy volunteering that take all their time when they retire, so they still have little time for leisure. Unquestionably, sacrifice is part of owning a business – but business ownership is supposed to eventually allow you more flexibility and more time to pursue your interests.If you are thinking of retiring, in 10 years, 5 year, or 1 year, the time is now to consider whether there is balance in your life between work and leisure. How do you start?Start introducing “time outs” into your schedule. This may begin with lunch out of the office. This sounds simple, but you need to take time away from the office, with no work multi-tasking. Join a gym or a team or a club and make time to go.Make “dates” with your spouse or significant other. Begin the discussion of what you want your retirement to be. You may have different ideas, but when you talk, you can work out a plan so each of you have the retirement you want.Set boundaries. With the prevalence of smart phone and instant internet, you can always be on duty unless you turn off you phone and ignore messages at night or when you are busy.Find something you want to try, explore it, and enjoy it – without making it a job. It is never too late to develop a new hobby or change your ways, but if you are obsessive about work, you may approach hobbies the same way to become a fishing or photography zealot. You need to work to change your patterns.Take vacations, starting with some long weekends, where you leave your job behind. Good planning should make this work. When you return and find the place still standing, you will build the courage to take more time off – and leave the office behind when you shut out the lights.You do not have to make a choice between being a”dull boy” or a”poor boy,” even in retirement. Developing a healthy balance between work and leisure before you get to that point will position you to enjoy your post retirement days and may even make your work years more enjoyable and productive.