Why in the hell did I take even take a vacation? It’s going to take months to catch up!
Why do I even work? I was happy hiking through the forest, and this meeting is making me miserable!
Why is everyone so rushed and rude?
Look at all of the things going wrong. I suck at work.
I hate my job!
These are voices I often hear in my head the first day back to work.
Until recently, these were more than voices. They dictated my choices and brought me down. They caused my energy to deplete, and I would quickly lose the benefits of the rest I had received on vacation.
Now, these voices are more just an amusement. I know I will get a cold bucket of water dumped over my head. I also know that most likely tomorrow, I will be back to loving work again.
The key to this transformation is to accept today is going to be hard. Tomorrow will be better.
The first day back from vacation can bring some golden insights if I pay careful attention. Working day in and day out, we often have become immune to parts of the job that don’t serve me.
If I pay careful attention, the shock can help highlight ways to improve my work.
On the first day back:
- I see people treating simple things as emergencies. With a fresh perspective, I realize that most things are not “fires.” This realization prevents me from not getting caught in the frenzy.
- I get run over by the faster pace. While away from work, I tend to slow down. Getting back up to speed and handling the rapid pace just takes some time. But it is also a reminder to help slow things down. This fast pace doesn’t always help.
- I hear more aggressive speech. I’m not used to the raw directness and urgency in which everyone speaks. A reminder to use more gentle communication is another way to help bring more calm to the office.
- It is more clear the parts of my job I most dislike. When I realize these activities, I can find ways to do less of these activities. For example, pointless meetings are excruciating on the first day back. This is an opportunity and reminder to get out of these meetings.
My strategy for the day is to focus on completing productive tasks. The first day back is not the time to figure everything out or develop strategies to fix everything. I can’t really go too wrong if I just start getting things done. It is easier than trying to figure out the reasoning behind the madness. Finding productive tasks is quite easy as the important stuff has a way of getting in your face as soon as you turn on the computer. Focusing on productive tasks allows me to ease back into the madness that I will end up loving the next day.
On the first day back from vacation, I’m never ready for the shock of the cold bucket of water, but I know it is coming. It is almost comical as I observe when the moment of terror happens. Then I look forward to the moment when I realize I enjoy my work. These realizations now prevent me from throwing away the relaxation from vacation as soon as I return to work.