Labor Day or Leisure Day?

Labor Day is fast approaching so I looked up a little information about the holiday.  I found this at : 

Date when celebrated: Always the first Monday in September

Dedicated in honor of the worker, it is also appropriately called the "workingman's holiday". The holiday is dedicated to you in respect and appreciation for the work you do in or outside of the home, union or non-union, big company, small companies, or government. As long as you work somewhere at something, this holiday is for you!

The first Labor Day was held celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882 and was started by the Central Labor Union in New York City. In 1884, it was moved to the first Monday in September where it is celebrated today. Labor Day quickly became popular and one state after another voted it as a holiday. On June 28, 1894, the U.S. congress voted it a national holiday.

Labor Day is also viewed as the official end of summer. While the Fall Equinox is still a couple of weeks away, kids go back to school and summer vacations are over.

Labor Day tradition: This day is celebrated with a day off and union sponsored parades. Many people celebrate this weekend with one last picnic. It is also the date that many people close up the pool, and put away the boats.


So what are you doing to take a break from “laboring” this holiday weekend?  We, as Americans, tend to work more days and hours than other wealthy countries who offer 4-6 weeks of paid vacation every year.  We have the idea that we have to work more to be more productive, which just isn’t true when you compare our productivity to that of countries with a lot more vacation.  Americans are afraid to get too far away from work (or the internet) due to fear of losing their jobs if they aren’t available.

How can we change this mentality?  Would the Earth stop rotating on its axis if Americans truly took time off?  What if we “disconnected” for a few days, say a 3 day weekend such as Labor Day weekend?  What would happen?  Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out?

I challenge you to unplug from work at least one day of this holiday weekend.  I’m sure the thought of this seems absurd to some of you, but entertain the idea for a while.  Just sit with it for a few minutes.  Close your eyes and imagine a whole day without cell phones, iPads, computers, internet service, and other electronic gadgets.  Notice how your body feels.  Notice how your mind feels.  What would you do if you actually carved out some free time for yourself?  No worries.  No work.  Not on call.  Nothing to do but relax, and (dare I think it?) have some fun.  When was the last time you just relaxed for a whole day, only doing what you wanted to do?  Have you missed your “free time”?

Interesting to think about, isn’t it?  Did anything horrible happen while you took a few moments to imagine what it might feel like to carve out some time for yourself?  Is Earth still spinning?  Amazing, isn’t it?  You took a mental vacation for a few minutes and the world went on without you working.

Now, what about putting your imagination into action?  What did you imagine yourself doing that was relaxing and/or fun?  I’m not talking about anything extravagant, just a day to do whatever you want to do.  I want you to put it on your calendar!  Yes, I said to schedule time for yourself!  In other countries, 6 weeks of vacation is not only offered, but is mandatory!  What a concept – mandatory time off from work!!

You owe it to yourself.  You deserve time off.  This holiday is to acknowledge how hard you work the rest of the year.  Americans in the 1800’s thought it was important enough to make it a national holiday.  Accept their wisdom, respect the meaning of the holiday, and celebrate yourself with some well-earned time off work to have some fun and to relax.  Let’s take the “labor” out of “Labor Day” and make it “Leisure Day.”

This article was posted in the Coach's Corner of the ASTD Newsletter for September 2015.  You can reach Kolleen through this website, Linked In, Facebook or by calling her at (402) 499-5547.  She offers workshops, small groups and individual life coaching on a variety of topics to help you create the life you dream of but haven't been able to achieve.