A ‘Staycation’ With Pirates And Pedicure


“So, how was your vacation?”

Whenever you return from time off work; be it a week or more, you can bet you’ll be answering this question or some version of it upon your return. I know where I work, I hear the question a lot, and I overhear many of the people who get asked the question talk of their great trips to foreign lands. Somehow however, when someone says they stayed at home and relaxed, they tend to sound apologetic as in, “I just stayed home.”

Now there’s a lot to be said for the so-called, staycation. I am back to work today after having been off for a week. I really enjoyed the time my wife and I spent together this past week. While we don’t have a, ‘memory of a lifetime’ to paste into some scrapbook, the time off and our choice on how to use it did for us exactly what we hoped it would do.

It was nice I must say to get in a lot of the little things we enjoy: reading for pleasure, gardening, day trips together and one with a friend, visiting the farmer’s market, dining out, a trip to a local Spa and we had some fun going to a few open houses and checking out some travel trailers. Not the stuff of adventure magazines or destined to win the, ‘how I spent my vacation’ essays one always seemed to have to write upon returning to school as a child. Still, our vacation and our choice how to use it.

I tell you this; we both return to work entirely rested and satisfied with how we spent our time together. Recharged in body and mind, we’re ready to return to work. While our time off was rejuvenating and yes I admit I commented, “Imagine this being our everyday reality upon retirement”, we’re both ready to return to work. One comment we didn’t make – neither of us – is, “Where did the time go?” No, the days were long and we got a lot out of them.

You know it’s funny and somewhat ironic when I think about the fact that there’s always that person it seems at work who on their first day back talks about needing a vacation to recover from their vacation. They packed in so much and it was go, go, go right from the start to the end that they didn’t actually relax much. Then there’s the person who inevitably ends their vacation with being absent the first day they are due to return to catch up on jet lag.

I must say I truly value the time off work. There are some people working contract jobs who don’t get a vacation at all. They have a prescribed start and end date, working perhaps in the hope of extending the contract they have, taking time off when they can’t string together consecutive, seamless contracts. The time off isn’t the same however from the standpoint of rest and relaxation, as for many they are not sure about how long they will be out of work. The not knowing makes spending time and money for pleasure somewhat difficult as ever-present is the notion of needing to find more income.

This is a curious thing isn’t it? The notion of having, ‘earned’ one’s time off. Sitting side by side in many offices you could find one employee working a contract and another working salaried. The two would certainly seem to be doing similar work to the casual observer, however only one of the two is building up their vacation entitlement. The other is working out their contract. From the work engaged in, how is it then that one is earning their vacation while the other is not?

While off, one of the extravagances I indulged in was what the spa referred to as their, ‘ultimate foot massage’. When I was diagnosed last year with diabetes 2, the Doctor and the Nurse Dietician in the Diabetes Unit both recommended taking particular care of my feet. So, over this week break, I did two things for the first time; a foot assessment at a foot care clinic and followed this up with a first-rate foot cleansing and pedicure (minus the nail polish!). Well a little pampering to be sure but really it was all about making sure from their trained eyes nothing was amiss. It felt good – and isn’t that what vacations are supposed to do? Make us feel good!

It took no time to get through a re-read of Treasure Island; catching up with Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins from my childhood.  An easy read in a comfortable seat under the shade of the gazebo next to the waterfall in the backyard. Love my books and the places they take me. Yes, sometimes the weeding and watering didn’t take precedence.

This is work/life balance; well, one example of it at any rate. Time off is essential; it restores one’s perspective, gives time for reflection and focus. The body as well as the mind get a chance to align with whatever you find fuels your soul.

Wherever you live and whatever time of year it is as you read this, my hope for you is that you get time to spend doing what you want to recharge. Be they big plans or modest in nature, may you find that work/life balance yourself.

 

 

 

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How Many Jobs Should You Apply To Per Day?


The short answer is a nice big fuzzy, “it depends.”

Now of course the logical question you’re framing in your mind is what does it depend on? Am I correct? While setting goals for yourself is commendable and strongly encouraged, it’s not always the best strategy to set a number of jobs to apply to each day when you’re out of work. That may come as a surprise to some of my readers given that I’m an Employment Counsellor.

An effective job search is about more than just filling out applications and firing off resumes to organizations online or via email. In fact, a healthy job search allocates time to a number of activities which will keep you busy and productive.

Now while you may be driven to actually apply for employment, it’s not always the case that the person who applies for the most number of jobs is ultimately the first one hired. Nor is it the case that the one who applies for the most number of jobs is the one who lands in the right job; and that can lead to many job changes when the positions don’t last long.

Sure you should look for jobs daily. By all means set aside some time in the morning to see what new postings may have come out in the last 24 hours. You don’t want to miss an opportunity that you’ve otherwise kept your eye on and find it has some extremely short deadline to apply and then miss it. How unfortunate that would be! If you also look into postings once during the afternoon, you’re already doing a good job of staying on top of what’s available.

There are other things you should be paying attention to however; and it’s these other things that will keep you productively engaged in your job search and give you enough variety so you avoid discouragement. Here’s a list:

  1. References. Now is the best time to put together a list of the people you know who will vouch for your work performance. Current or former employers, supervisors and/or co-workers are excellent choices. You’ll need a minimum of 3 of these, including the correct spelling of their names, titles, company names, phone numbers and emails. By the way, send them a current resume to have on hand as well as a note of appreciation for their ongoing support.
  2. Social Media Profile. When applying for a position, many employers will turn to the internet and dig around to find what they can about you. If you started a LinkedIn profile but never really developed it much, now is a great time to devote some attention to developing and fleshing out your profile. Put in a little effort now and you won’t feel embarrassed about your profile later.
  3. Exercise. Job searching is stressful for almost everybody and it manifests itself in physical ways. Getting out for a walk, bicycle ride, the elliptical gathering cobwebs in the basement or a trip to the gym will not only improve your physical fitness but ward off aches and pains.
  4. Enjoy A Pastime. If you need permission to spend some time doing things you enjoy, here it is. Get out in the garden, work those knitting needles, pound those keyboards, pick up that paintbrush. Setting aside some time to do things which bring you happiness and keep up your sense of normal day-to-day living is strongly encouraged. Job searching need not be all-consuming.
  5. Practice Interviewing. I know, I know, I know. This is likely something you don’t enjoy and only want to do when absolutely necessary. Still, without practice and more practice, you’re not going to be at your best just winging it on the day of the big interview. You’ll feel mounting anxiety if you put off practicing and end up sitting in some Reception area wishing you had dusted off your interview skills earlier.
  6. Work Your Network. Networking is essential; engaging with other people, taping into their resources, gaining support and advice, drawing on their expertise and experience. Be it phone calls, face-to-face, over the net, etc., devote some time to reaching out. All those friends on FB and connections on LI you’ve been building are a good place to start.
  7. Diet. By diet I do not mean lose weight. What I do mean is pay attention to both the quantity of food you consume and the quality. When you’re off work, the proximity to your pantry and fridge is considerably reduced, and your trips to both may be much more frequent. If you don’t bring junk into the house in the first place it won’t be there for you to over-indulge in during those weak moments when you crave comfort food.

There’s more you could be doing for sure, but these 7 are a good start. Setting yourself an arbitrary goal of say, 8 job applications a day will either set you up to fail or have you applying at jobs you don’t really want at all just to meet this quota.

If you’re only applying to a single job every week or less you’ve got to step things up my friend. What I’m saying is balance is the key; apply for jobs that you’re truly qualified to do and motivated to do – absolutely. It’s equally important however to get out from in front of a monitor and keep living.