TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson: To Be Better at Work, Take Time Away

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

TIAA is No. 27 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list

With summer over and the busy fall season upon us, it’s a perfect time for a reminder about something we all too often forget: being your best at work requires regularly taking time away from work.

Roger W. Ferguson, Jr.

This is not a novel concept but Americans still seem to have trouble embracing it. Consider the issue of vacation. Although the trend seems to be reversing somewhat, last year, about half of workers failed to take all of their vacation days. American workers think “the path to career success requires sacrificing vacation,” according to Project: Time Off, an initiative that aims to get people to understand that taking time off is good for “individual well-being and professional success, business performance, and the broader economy.”

Vacation is important, and it’s just as important to manage your life in a way that enables you to recharge on a regular basis. You simply must take time during the week for the pursuits that nourish you physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. For me, that means doing things like exercising, reading, seeking out interesting conversations, and spending time with family and friends.

In the modern world, achieving “work-life balance” is a lot harder than it used to be. Today, technology makes it possible to be in touch with our work and colleagues on a nearly continuous basis. “Work” and “life” are a continuum, flowing into and influencing one another sometimes with positive results, other times not. It’s up to us to carefully manage the interplay. If we do that in a way that bolsters our well-being, we’ll benefit both at home and in the office. The things I do in my time away from work are things that make me happy and more fulfilled as a human being. They also enhance my productivity and the quality of the work I do. It turns out that happiness and success go hand in hand. But studies show that it’s not that success makes us happy; it’s that happiness breeds success in many aspects of life.

The moral of the story is that if you want to excel at work, make sure that you’re not spending all your time there. And if you haven’t yet used all your vacation for 2017, now would be a great time to plan for how you’re going to do that before the end of the year. With that in mind, what things do you already do or plan to do to relax and recharge

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