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Work Hard To Rest

Work Hard to Rest

Summer is here and everyone is off and running to their favorite getaway for a ‘much-needed’ vacation. Whether you are a stressed-out student in school or enslaved to your job or business we all need a REST! In this hustle and bustle work-a-holic world we live in though; why do we work so hard to get a rest?

There is little doubt that a majority of Americans are the most overworked people in the industrial world. A United Nations survey showed that Americans work more than 400 hours per year more than Germans and over 1/3 of us work over 48 hours per week. 62% of all American households have both parents working. There are 11 million households with single parents raising children on their own. Other than 3rd world countries and dictatorship-led countries Americans top the group that works way too hard.

What is crazy is the amount of earnings we spend on our vacation time, limited as both may be. I say limited because compared to other countries we are the only one that does not have employment laws with required vacation time. This chart compares the required paid vacation time that Europeans put on the little charts we have in the bathroom about Employee rights. You won’t see paid vacation time listed. Thus we Americans make the most of our minuscule vacation time when it arrives – by spending a large portion of the money we worked so hard to obtain.

In an article on American spending habits it says the average American spends $1497 a month on entertainment, that’s $18,000 a year. If you make $100k a year that is 18% of your income, actually way more as that $100k is pre-tax dollars. Of that $18k, if you only take ONE one-week of vacation a year the average cost is between $4100-$5100 for a family of four per this article.

I am a numbers fanatic. I am only showing 4 of 30 references I read to give you data as we discuss the income and spending of the average Joe/Jo’s in the U.S. Seeking Alpha updates the national average monthly. For April 2023 they claim the average household income is around $81,000 per year. Using the simple math of $100k is a good measuring stick. If you make $100k a year and actually only work 40 hours a week, multiplying that by 50 weeks means you make $2k per week or $50 an hour. If you are at $25 an hour you make $50k. If just above minimum wage at $12.50 an hour you make $25k.

A person making $50 an hour, with a family of four works 100 hours to cover the cost of a one-week vacation, or actually 135 hours since all vacation spending is from after-tax and other pre-paycheck reductions.

With that in mind obviously, the person making minimum wage splurging like a 6figure earner would spend 3/4’s of their money on entertainment based on the figures above. I know people that go into debt for every vacation they take as if it is a sacred rite and one that is worth all the work in the world to splurge on those weeks. They say who cares if Disney charges $150 a person to enter in their amusement park (whimpering when looking at the debt bill later). By golly, my kids are not going to leave home without having been there at least a few times in their childhood. I have seen people who couldn’t afford to have food do just that. I call that insanity.

The main point of this article is Americans work their tails off for 50 weeks a year typically spending 1/8th of their earnings to pay for 2-3 weeks of vacation. Afterward, do we actually feel like we got any rest?

Don’t get me wrong, vacations and time off are extremely important. In fact, Forbes wrote an article they titled Why taking a vacation could save your life.‘ Of course, a business magazine would tout the importance of vacations since travel and tourism contributes $2trillion to the GDP. They did list these important benefits of vacation time worth noting:

  • · Vacation time increases mindfulness

  • · Vacation time improves heart health

  • · Vacation time reduces stress

  • · Vacation time boosts brainpower

  • · Vacation time improves sleep

  • · Vacation time increases work productivity

The purpose of a vacation is what – to get away from work so you can rest. Have some fun doing things that you like to do rather than what you have to do. You leave your home (or noisy apartment) behind because you avoid that housecleaning and yard work on the to-do list. Many tout creating memories that last forever; worth every penny right? So don’t be like the 42% of Americans that actually leave some of their vacation time on the table and do not use it at all. I admit I did it as I had a commission-based career; being away cost me money. Each year I often had a week or two of vacation time I never used. Don’t be like me.

As I look back on years of workaholism with an ‘always work-hard and play hard’ attitude some of it was not wise. And then when I found myself on a life flight from a stroke and damaged heart; I am sure I have overdone it all. Thus I reflect on rest...

Some Psych experts hold that workaholism is a positive attribute by emphasizing the benefits gained from heavy work investment and extra work efforts. Most scholars highlight the negative and riskier sides of impaired health and work–life conflicts. Personally, I think there is an irony to the fact I had a stroke on Labor Day. No person on their deathbed ever wished they had worked more. Even now in supposed retirement, I have replaced the work world with other tasks like volunteering (aka working for free) and writing long blogs that I have to call mini-books because of their length. I worked really hard to reach that rest stage of life, yet still sometimes I realize I missed the lessons. But that is changing as old revelations are screaming for new life changes. Beyond vacation, beyond days off, beyond walks in parks, I/we need much more to really rest. We actually have to Work Hard At Rest! Say what, that makes no sense Joe.

If you clicked on this story you’ve stumbled on a place that makes you think, or at least get to read about someone who already thought about it for you. I give you a choice to go further. For some of you, this was all you needed to hear (or your ADHD can handle) I hope you are motivated to make sure you use that vacation time. The number$ tells you to ratchet down the spending on extravagant vacations so don’t get sucked into having to work more to pay for them. Go have some fun and rest if you are not interested in a spiritual viewpoint.

But, if you need more on how to work hard at something more important – true REST and PEACE, then read on further.

Please don’t go away yet! Hit that red/pink line for more. If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, every post is written in two parts. You have just read the portion challenging the mind, body, and soul. In The Portico, I seek to tap into your spiritual side, but only IF YOU DARE. Tap the Red Line Below to read the Part 2 Spiritual side of the story. (For an explanation of my madness – read the ‘Do You Dare’ Tab)

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