No matter how old I get, colorful trees still get me thinking of back to school. Of summer’s lazy days coming to an end, replaced by the drudgery of classroom life. With September, we say goodbye to the spontaneous, unscheduled days of summer, replacing freedom with strict school bells that order us from one activity to the next. Evenings spent listening to crickets and crackling campfires become nights of homework.
No wonder the stores selling school supplies appear to be the only ones truly excited about the first day of school.
But don’t the school kids themselves seem rather into it as well? Even for those who lament vacation coming to a close, there’s something about this season that students can’t help but get a little (or a lot) excited about.
I think the answer lies in human nature. We’re inherently wired to be productive. We naturally enjoy doing, creating, making, serving, accomplishing, learning, moving forward. We seek mastery—we want to get better at stuff. And we desire meaning, hoping to accomplish something we see as valuable.
My very perceptive wife says it so well: “There’s so much talk about ‘easy’ as a good thing, but if something’s difficult to accomplish, it’s not bad. The goal of life is not to avoid work. We are designed to work.”
If human beings came with owner’s manuals, our instructions would include a bunch of caution statements warning that we’re designed to move, think, be challenged, get stretched, work hard, lift things, bend. Maintenance instructions would direct us to avoid the sedentary.
If people in your organization are excited about taking a break, that’s great. In fact, it’s very beneficial to take time off. Creativity and productivity are enhanced by rest times.
But if you or your coworkers are focusing on some future day when you can cash in and check out of the active world, then something is wrong with the choice of career. If that’s you or a friend or an employee, then it’s time to start some job vision work—and look at how you can redesign your role to fit that vision.