That summer vacation feeling

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 18, 2013, 9:18 PM | comments: 0

While out for lunch today, with sun, 80 degree temperatures, and a healthy dose of humidity, I had what I could only describe as the "summer vacation feeling." You know what I'm talking about. It's that feeling you had right after school let out, when you didn't have to be anywhere in particular. It was probably one of the best feelings of being a kid.

Last summer, I found myself having that feeling a lot, and for a moment, I thought, "Gosh, I sure wish I could have this feeling whenever I wanted." After a little more reflection, I realized that I've actually been fortunate enough to have that feeling most of my adult life. I never really lost the ability or opportunity to have that feeling.

In adulthood, we measure freedom in completely different ways, and probably associate it with happiness to some degree. It was in last summer's reflection that I realized that the freedom actually has little to do with what you do for a living, and more how you do it. I've worked for companies large and small, and I've worked for myself during various times (deliberately and involuntarily). The freedom can exist in any of those situations, but it's predicated on three conditions:

  • You have to like what you're doing. This might seem obvious, but when you like what you're doing, it doesn't feel like work. There are a lot of people who will argue, especially from the Baby Boomer generation, that work can't be something you like, it's just something you have to do. Perhaps rejecting that makes me an idealist.
  • Whatever the situation you're working in, whether it's for a company directly, for yourself, or indirectly for a mass of customers, the freedom requires trust from your "boss." I say "boss" figuratively, because even if you're self-employed, you're still accountable to someone in order to make money. If that entity trusts you, then you're bound to results, not face time or something else unrelated to results. When it's a relationship of trust, you can use your discretion to have your summer vacation feeling.
  • You have the right amount of work. This part is a little trickier, but again, it doesn't matter if you work for The Man or for yourself. If there's so much on your plate that you can't schedule in a little time for something that makes the summer vacation feeling, you aren't really free.

When I look back at my work life thus far, there were only two times that I lacked the summer vacation feeling. One was in a job that I knew wasn't going anywhere, I wasn't learning, and I had no office window. They worried about face time. The other time was far more brief, when a job was starting to sour because the company was going down in flames. That was one of the times it just felt like work.

Maybe I've been lucky, but I have had quite a streak of work where I had lots of summer vacation feeling. I love that feeling.


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