Aaaahh, Labor Day—a day set aside to honor and celebrate dedicated workers and to grant us an extra period of rest and play.
While researching comparative U.S. work trends with those of other industrial nations in recent years, I must admit that I was very surprised to learn that the average American works less than the average worker in most first-world countries. Frankly, I thought that on the whole we worked much more than most nations. According to the Federal Reserve Economic Data compiled last year, the average U.S. work week is less than 33 hours. This is hard for me to fathom when I know so many people who work 60+ hours per week. The peak labor period in our country occurred in 1950: still averaging slightly less than 40 hours a week.
Hopefully, this trend is reflecting a recent commitment to work/life balance, whereby we devote ample time to family and other relationships, health habits, leisure activities, spiritual focus and to rest. I’m aware of Generation Y’s insistence in limiting their work time and balancing their lives.
Perhaps we’re also learning to take a page from the British with their 3:00 tea times and the Spanish and Mexican mid-day siesta. Over the past decade, some corporations have begun implementing the power nap. As one who has specialized in stress management in my private practice and as a consultant, I recognize that during the past 30 years an increasing number of people have sought various ways of managing their stress levels—and practicing methods with greater regularity.
The term labor of love is a very apt one for those, myself included, who regard their work as a life purpose or calling and/or for those who simply enjoy what they do. Passion about one’s profession and a dedication to service are two virtues that contribute greatly to job satisfaction, even for folks who consistently put in a lot of hours. Conversely, working with golden handcuffs–performing a high-paying job that the person dislikes–depletes energy and morale and erodes the soul.