Thanksgiving: A Break or A Binge?

This week contains 2 reasons to give thanks: 1) because it’s “Thanksgiving”! and 2) a few days off from work, meetings, etc.! How will you spend your holiday break? Are you planning on a binge or a break? Will it be a time of enjoyment spent with family and friends, or will it be a time where you are working hard while everyone else enjoys their days off? As always, there’s no right or wrong answer. Instead, you should make conscious choices that meet your needs & reflect on how your approach to Thanksgiving Break is related to your daily work habits.

The “Break As A Binge” Model

Most people view scheduled breaks throughout the year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and so on) as a time to catch up on all the things they had planned to work on during the year, but did not. These breaks are their salvation because they involve large blocks of uninterrupted time, solitude (either at home or at the office without others around), and the leisure time to just think.

Unfortunately, that beautifully imagined break often gets disturbed by the reality that holidays include travel, family commitments and more, all of which require time and energy. This typically means that work commitments or personal goals are simply replaced by equally time-intensive activities with family and friends during this season.

When a break-induced binge is successful, we feel back on track with our projects and a sense of significant professional progress. But the cost is often physical and mental exhaustion, and some strain on our relationships with family & friends. When the binge is unsuccessful and we don’t accomplish all we imagined, we may experience guilt, disappointment and shame over yet another unfulfilled task. Usually when I have binged on breaks in the past, I’ve always felt like I’ve lost more time than I’ve gained in productivity.

The “Break As A Break” Model

For those of you who work every day towards your goals, holiday breaks are real breaks (as in a time to rest from work). If you have made consistent progress towards your goals, then treating the break as a break makes perfect sense. In short, the Break-As-A-Break Model is possible when you have successfully shifted your mentality from hoping for large blocks of time of productivity to pro-actively creating small blocks of time in your daily schedule.

Ultimately, how we understand Thanksgiving Break speaks volumes about how we work on a daily basis AND how we understand the core of our professional identity. In other words, when my normal daily existence includes working towards my goals, then a “break” means a break. But when your daily routine is spent serving everyone elses around you, then a “break” means a break from meeting the needs of others so you can finally attend to your own needs.

I encourage you to spend this Thanksgiving Break in whatever way that your needs dictate. It’s okay to binge, and it’s okay to take a break.

I hope this upcoming week brings you the strength to honestly assess where you are in life and the clarity to make whatever adjustments are necessary so you can enjoy the life you so richly deserve!

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