Fake Holidays Shouldn't Be the Only Time You Take A Break

Nov 23 / Whitney Gaffari
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Every time November rolls around, I feel more and more salty and disappointed in the United States. I get so irritated and annoyed about the lies told in our school history books and what we are taught as children. I become even more annoyed as I watch emails roll in from other business owners announcing their “turkey day plans” or “Friendsgiving” agenda.

Public Service Announcement

Just because you’ve rebranded it to some clever new name
(that holds to the same original traditions) doesn’t mean you’re actively stopping the harm inflicted every year this horrific holiday is celebrated and promoted. 

I grew up not celebrating holidays due to the cult I was raised in - casualty or perks?
Therefore, I have zero attachment to any of them. However, through the years, I’ve asked individuals, including those whom I’ve dated, what their purpose was for celebrating a holiday based on a lie?
 Why do you feel like you must eat turkey on THIS day when you can have turkey and pie on ANY day? Spoiler alert, I ask a version of this question on ALL major holidays.
By the way, if you’re feeling uncomfortable or as though I am coming for your edges as you read this, please know that I am, and it’s good that you’re uncomfortable. Because for all of the obvious reasons, and perhaps a few surprise ones, I want you to be moved to critically think.

Can’t get past the first round of tea and anxious to know how to spend your Thanksgiving instead?

Check out this great article from Cultural Survival that shares 8 Ways to Decolonize and Honor Native Peoples on Thanksgiving.

So the two most common responses to my question? 

“I don’t really celebrate, but it’s tradition” - This kind of no questions asked autopilot move is dangerous.

“I know, but it’s one of the few times everyone in my family or friends can be off work and spend time together. You know, it’s about family time.” - Ironic considering this specific holiday celebrates a lie used to cover up genocide, which includes countless Indigenous families and friends. I bet they would have liked to have had more time together, too.

Okay, now hold that thought, and stay with me as we transition for just a bit.

We live in a society where time is money. The systemic white supremacy model for operating business is focused heavily on productivity, assuming that you’ll accomplish more if you work 40+ hours a week. Therefore, the allotted time off from work and accessibility for life balance is significantly reduced. And the culture within most organizations is that you’re celebrated for putting in more hours of work. And less about how you work best. I saw this all the time during my time in the corporate world. It became a low-key competition amongst my peers. 

None of this is sustainable, which is why people feel burnt out. And end up living their lives on autopilot and merely going with the flow because they’ve been conditioned to believe they have no control or that only minimal improvement is possible. Which is so untrue. As individuals, we have a lot of power. When we come together, it is exponentially greater. But let’s continue on.
Remember that productivity is not about how busy you are; instead, it is about how much you accomplish. Productivity is all about results and reaching your goals. As a business owner or as a remote employee* (depending on role), if you want to add in more breaks and downtime while still being more productive, organize and schedule your life so that it makes sense.

What do I mean by this?

I mean, set up your day in a way that best serves you so that you can accomplish your work based on when you perform the best. So that you are feeling less overwhelmed, burnt out, and as though your only opportunity to feel connected to those you love requires perpetuating harm through white supremacist and consumer-driven bullshit holidays

*Note: I understand that if you’re an employee for a company, there are some levels of restrictions ( i.e., mandatory meetings, PTO, etc.) However, for the direct purpose of this conversation, get clear on the times of day you perform best, and talk with your manager to identify how you may adjust your schedule so that everyone wins. Maybe it’s completing specific tasks during a particular time of the day versus your current flow that’s not serving you.

So Whitney, how can I introduce more balance, ease, and breaks into my life + work?

Great question; I’m glad you asked!

In the following 5 ways, let’s check ’em out!

Understand Your Limitations

It’s easy to compare yourself to others. If you use the dangerous logic that other successful people are working 100 hours a week, it’s tempting to think you must also. However, you really don’t need to do that, nor should you.

It’s not healthy.

There are 24 hours in a day, and you need to sleep at least 7 of those hours, exercise about an hour, and eat for about three hours a day. Then, of course, there’s relationship building and maintenance with others and yourself. That can look like spending time with your family, friends, personal enrichment through learning, self-care, and strengthening your emotional health.

Sure some of these things may be spread throughout your week, but if you keep crowding your days on repeat, you won’t have time for any of it. Catch my drift?
If you really want to fit it all in, you’ll have to be realistic about time and your own limitations in terms of resources financially, mentally, and physically.

Know Your Priorities

When you look at your overall life plan and goals, what are your actual priorities? You have priorities for all the different areas of your life, including spirituality, personal development, health, love, social community, finance, family, business, career, and so forth. 

Ask yourself the following questions:
How are you organizing your life to sprinkle in each of your priorities each day and week?

Have you been neglecting any of them

Are you prioritizing and valuing other people’s priorities over your own?

Get clear on the answers to these questions, and then take the necessary steps to align your behaviors and routine accordingly. You’ve got this!

Determine Your Daily Energy Levels

Everyone has their own daily rhythm to life that works best for them. Some of us are night owls, and some of us are more productive in the morning. Some days of the week, we are utter rock stars, while some of us lose steam as it gets closer to the weekend. Know where you fit in so that you can schedule the most physically or mentally taxing tasks to the right time frame of the day or week.

Delegate and Automate When Possible

This may cause some of you to cringe because if you are anything like me, you probably hate asking for help. Life has probably conditioned you to believe that you MUST complete everything on your own. But love, there really are people who would absolutely love to step up and fill in where you need them. You shouldn’t do everything yourself in business or life. Instead, get help either by using automation technology or outsourcing, or both. It costs a lot less than you think to hire someone to handle your customer service emails or install automation that saves lots of time. Consider also hiring interns, setting up a professional trade with business partners, or asking your community.

For automation and outsourcing ideas, look at your accounting, bookkeeping, administrative tasks, customer service, data entry, marketing, tech support, web design, web maintenance, content writing, and so forth. If the job does not need your personal touch or smiling face, let go of it.

Set Up and Organize Properly For Freedom + Flexibility

It cannot be overstated how important using the right tools for the job can save you time and frustration. This is true whether you’re cooking a nice dinner or if you’re setting up customer service options with software. If you don’t invest in the right tools, you’re not going to get the best result.
Avoiding burnout requires that you be very honest with yourself and others about your capabilities. No one really needs to work 80+ hours a week. The human body was not designed for that. Therefore, you will need to learn how to organize yourself to accomplish your goals without overworking because you’re not here to simply work and make money.

You’re here to have a full and well-rounded life that includes downtime, vacations, family, friends, community, sex, dancing, and LOVE.

Final Thoughts

If you’re now saying AMEN to ALL of that, then take the time to share this conversation with your friends and family so they too can stop buying into the idea that fake holidays are the only time they can connect with one another. This is what it means to be in a community and to protect the lives of one another. Everything in life and in business is a full circle. 
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