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PEAK — PROMOTING EDUCATION, AWARENESS, AND KNOWLEDGE

University of the Rockies is proud to share our PEAK initiative: Promoting Education, Awareness, and Knowledge. Every month, we'll highlight different causes and opportunities that reflect the values of the University. You'll also learn ways you can participate.

Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

January 2015


Who You Are When You Want to Be
by Dylan Self, Military Student Advisor at University of the Rockies

As we finish the holidays and begin a new year, I’m thinking about our relationship with time. If we had a healthy relationship with time, why do we leave so much vacation time abandoned each year? A recent study found that American workers forfeited over $50 billion in vacation benefits in 2013 (Thompson, 2014). And yet in China, people go on vacation for a few weeks during Spring Festival each year, not counting any other vacation benefits they receive from their employer (“Traditional Chinese Festivals,” N.D.). Time in America, it seems, escapes us.

Halloween was once a magical time for pranksters and hooligans, but it is now a time to buy stuff, go to the mall to trick-or-treat while mom and dad shop, and for young people to wear costumes that would shock their grandparents. Thanksgiving and Christmas, once days of reflection and prayer, have become national days of shopping with Black Friday sales, major theatrical releases, and deep discounts for weeks on end.

Many people during this time of annual renewal have succumbed to the temptation of making resolutions based upon the things we don’t like in our lives. According to USA.gov’s list of the ten most common resolutions, Americans embrace health-conscious goals like eating and drinking less, financial aspirations like returning to school or managing debt better, and goals of personal edification such as volunteering more or seeing new places (“Popular New Year’s Resolutions,” 2014). Living better, spending wiser, and interacting with the rest of the world aren’t such bad ideas. Unfortunately for our current mood, the motivation to make such changes is hard to muster and harder to maintain. Being sedentary has not only become a lifestyle, it has become a norm. Our pedestrian areas and workplaces tell us that sitting down has triumphed over walking.

Anyone who has taken the time to take the stairs or ride a bike more has probably noticed this phenomenon rather quickly. Elevators are centrally located, stairways are hidden. Parking is convenient, bike or walking paths are not (Mullan, 2000). Many employers, especially in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, have embraced healthy living campaigns, but short of establishing an environment supportive of physical activity, they are not likely to show any meaningful results (Ibid). But do employees lack the will, or do they believe they don’t have the time?

Our ancestors used to work 60 hours per week and considered it normal (Clutterbuck, 2004). I don’t mean to imply that life is easier or harder than it used to be. We just have more choices available to complicate our schedules. I wrote before that time escapes us; by that I meant that taking time means being able to say no.

In this new year, no change in who we are will come unless we are more aware of when we make time to be who we are. Take time to take time. Say no to invitations or obligations that will stretch you too thin. Remember that choices provide us with the answer “no” as much as the answer “yes.”

References
Clutterbuck, David. (Fall 2004). How to Get the Payback From INvestment in Work-Life Balance. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 27 (3).

Mullan, Zoe. (1 January, 2000.) Do Americans keep their New Year's resolutions? The Lancet, 355 (9197).

“Popular New Year’s Resolutions.” (N.D.) USA.gov. Retrieved on 11 December, 2014 from: http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New-Years-Resolutions.shtml

Thompson, Chuck. (23 October, 2014.) Americans Taking Fewest Vacation Days in Four Decades. CNN.com. Retrieved on 9 December, 2014 from: http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/22/travel/u-s-workers-vacation-time/

“Traditional Chinese Festivals.” (N.D.) China.Org.CN. Retrieved on 9 December, 2014 from: http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/Festivals/78322.htm



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