It's Friday of the week where one of the leading GPs in England, Professor Ashton, has recommended a 4 day week as beneficial for society, not just for our health and happiness. How do you feel today as the weekend's bright beauty stands ready to greet you with her benevolent, heart-warming smile? What treasures do you have planned? What nightmares are you hoping to forget? What do you want to escape?
How will you mark its arrival? The obligatory glass of red. The trip to the local to unwind with friends. A family meal. Holiday planning. A hot bath. Time with your children. Start a new book. Watch the football. Go for a run. As the strain and stress of the working week fades into non-existence, our family and friends come into focus, as do we ourselves.
So many people I know work so hard. So hard that their health, their happiness, their family, their friends, their own life force is put second place, third place, not even on the list. Corporate obedience is top. Maybe because this feeds into feeding family/ paying mortgage. Maybe just because this is how its always been done. The company voice is louder that ours, ergo their power greater than our one voice, other voices that play on a record in our mind - this is the way it is done - drowning out smaller less developed voices that may offer nuggets and direction. Family cultures established at points in history where circumstances were different, choice limited, continued into patterning in new generations and encouraging wrong thinking.
Stress/ poor work-life balance has long been accepted as the price of success. Stress seen as a misshapen yet glorious badge of honour. Those that work so hard they don't have time to enjoy life are the modern day soldiers fighting for the good of society. We esteem them. We admire them from afar. How do they do it. Superman. Superwoman. I've seen people work their whole life waiting to retire and travel the world, then die the year before they got there due to lifestyle choices brought about by too much work than they could cope with. Not listening to the signals of their body. The squashed whispers of their heart.
But what are we working for? Some well adjusted and extremely self aware people know the answer to this question. Most don't. Most of us are running on the treadmill, unconsciously, racing against god knows who for god knows what sort of prize at a tempo set by no man.
I sometimes see the conventional working culture as a never ended cycle of amnesia. Monday - Friday. 9am-5am. Escape on a Friday and forget. Friday feeling. Binge drinking. Forget on a Saturday. Remember Saturday night/ Sunday morning. Sunday blues. Suicide Monday. This is the status quo. Some people have jobs they love. Some people have creative ways of making their own way. Some people have unconventional lives. Most people have jobs. And flashes of freedom that suspend the norm. Holidays. Parties. Festivals.
We need a bit more balance. I know we have a huge deficit to pay back. But we won't pay it back with an unhappy workforce. Unhappy = unproductive. Stress = fatigue. Maybe the answer is a 4 day week. Maybe not. Maybe the answer is more flexi time. From Monday 30th June all employees with 26 plus weeks of service can request flexi working. This has been all over the press this week, a sign that the times they are a changing'.
But I think it goes so much further than this. Redistribution. Redistribution of working and wealth needs to enter into the debate. As Professor Ashton stated there are too many people working too hard and too few people not able to get jobs. There are huge movements globally lobbying for the redistribution of wealth. 1% have so much and 99% so little.
So, what are we working for? What motivates you? Is it simply the desire to provide for a family? Is it to fulfil your potential? Is it to fit in to the current status quo? Is it to get bigger and better? I think there is a lot of greed in the West at the minute. I think that is what companies are capitalising on. Work that extra 4 hours a day, and you can get that bigger house for your family that okay you haven't seen again this week, but think about the future - you will be able to give up your job and live with them in this massive house. The unwritten part of lots of contracts. Submit yourself to our rules and we will stand by you. Except we won't, if something changes. We'll just sack you. Because the company we work for is not our family, granted some people have very good set-ups with enlightened cultures. Our Employer is not our Mother, Sainsburys is not our sister, Facebook is not our friend. It will pay our mortgage for a time, it will facilitate our lives for some time. But it will not protect us, it will not love us back. We give our companies our unconditional love and service. This is a displacement, a misplacement.
Wake Up. Smell The Flowers.
And ENJOY your weekend :)