Paid Time Off is Key to Balance
You deserve a significant amount of paid time off at your company. Not because you have worked your tail off and need a break, but because you’re a valuable person who should be nurtured and respected to live your life first. That is what supports a successful company.
How the heck are you, this week? We have broached November and are heading to the end of what has been a questionable year. Not too bad at the end, but still I’m wanting a fresh start come 2022. How about you?
It’s a somber day for me after yesterday’s All Souls Day, remembering my mom and the actual anniversary of my dad’s passing. Celebrating my parents’ life stories and how much they influenced my current day is what inspired me to start this podcast. Our Life Lnxx are a big part of why we do the things we do, the things that define our identity, so why not live all of that out loud, in their honor?
You can read more about celebrating this day of remembrance, both in the indigenous spirituality of DIA de Los Muertos celebrated in Mexico and also All Souls Day celebrated worldwide in our newsletter. So be sure to sign up on our website @lifelnxx.com, that’s L N double X.
Now I want you to think about taking a break. By mid-week, you are pretty overwhelmed and ready to reach the weekend. Fortunately, some of you have Fridays off or every other Friday to help create a balanced sense of self and detach from work. But still there’s a lot of apprehension about that Monday being just around the corner and for good reason. The workplace is no longer a place to gather and create at a reasonable pace. It’s become more of a speed race to be the first one out there, to maintain stock value or acquire investor funding and you may be getting really overwhelmed.
Too Much Work To Balance with Life
Today’s episode, like the title says, is all about the struggle here in the U S for employees to try to gain a work/life balance. The assumption is that work is intense and life is carefree, and therefore, you just have to balance those two out, but seriously, how much of your life follows that logic? How much of life is actually life-work that you’re trying to cram into those same life days and balance it all out. It’s more like there’s work, then there’s life-work and then there’s life. And all of that is what we need to balance out.
That’s where we’re headed in this episode today. I’m going to focus on the three things that are important to getting stress free time off rather than those desperate, breakaway moments when you’re just can’t get to work anymore.
There’s a lot of talk about being more organized and prioritizing your time and not procrastinating at work followed by the instructions for self care, like removing stress through meditation and deep breathing and exercise. And that’s all great, all necessary steps to approach work while maintaining a healthy mindset. But is it enough for you?
Latina Lifestyle at Home
It definitely wasn’t for me. My personality evolved from my youth, surrounded by lively Latinos, dancing in our home on any given day. I realized now those were perfectly balanced work-life days, that weren’t saved for the weekends.
For me waiting for random holiday parties throughout the year isn’t enough to meet my socializing needs. And it still goes unmet even now. My friends would not spontaneously drop over for food and drinks, no matter how much I cajoled them to do it. They just didn’t believe me. They wanted an invitation, one that stated the day and the time and how to RSVP.
But that’s too much planning. I didn’t want to do all that. I just wanted to create my own Latina lifestyle in my house. So I made a pseudo spontaneous drop by any time kind of lifestyle and declared it Friday Frescas.
I told my friends that every Friday, between Memorial day to my birthday near Halloween, my house would be open after 6:00 PM. There would be food and drinks and no end time set for the night. Everyone was encouraged to bring friends and family regardless of age or whether I already know them. And because of this, I was blessed to meet a professional opera singer from Australia, an international judge of pure bred horses from England, and the superior court judge. I kept her card like in monopoly. It’s the get out of jail free card. It took at least three months before my friends stopped asking you mean we can come every Friday?
At my house, you can come every day. In a Latina household, there is always the love of giving, especially through food and drinks and music whenever people stop over. It’s a sign of love when people just drop by, which is so different than the typical household here. Most people get flustered if you were to stop by uninvited. But this was a way for me to forge balance into my life so that it wasn’t defined by work and only on weekends, would there be time for life.
US Does Not Mandate Paid Time Off
One of the main facets here in the U S is the heavy imbalance of work hours to life hours. You don’t take enough time off because you don’t get enough time off. For most of you, by the time you take some days around the holidays to get back to your family, you might have four or five days of vacation to plan for the year.
Seven days, if you throw in a weekend day on each end. You have had enough attempts at a real vacation that, you know a seven day vacation leaves you kind of more tired than if you didn’t have one at all.
I was taking a look at just how many countries around the world mandate, as in it’s the law, generous time off through paid vacation. It’s really astonishing how fabulous life is as a working professional in those countries. It helps bring some perspective and context to how you’re living life here.
We have a blog post up on our website, @lifelnxx.com, that’s L N double X. So that you can learn more about it and see if it entices you. If anything, it’s going to give you some pretty good insight in just how hard we’re working here, versus other countries, that honestly we do see as idyllic.
In case you didn’t know this, the US does not have a law requiring a minimum amount of paid vacation time. Just like it doesn’t have a law regarding paid family leave, right? Another very hot topic this week, but we’ll get to that later. So let me repeat that the US does not have a law requiring a minimum amount of paid vacation time for you.
The law says you get zero. Yes, zero. The only guaranteed leave is 10 days of paid holiday and that’s because of the unions. So you get 10 days of paid holiday, not vacation, holiday. You know that random Monday, every once in a while, plus some Patriot days and those two extra days at the end of the year.
Now you may get more time off, but it’s up to the company to state what you get. So in that sense, your vacation time off is considered a perk. Not a mandatory way of providing wellbeing, but a luxury that is not obligated to be given.
And unfortunately, with our human personalities, if it’s a luxury, if it’s a gift and we tend to feel more obligated to work harder and show appreciation for that perk. I bet that makes a lot of sense with how you feel right now.
Negotiating Paid Time Off into Your Contract
So let’s consider vacation and paid time off, your PTO, relative to work and gather some ideas on establishing time that is yours, without the underlying threat that you shouldn’t take it.
In my opinion, work is not your life, it’s not your identity, but for many in ownership or leadership work is their main life effort. Work should be an expression of who you are and what you want to experience in life. Work can be for fueling your soul, a vehicle for joy and providing benefit to society.
But work is not who you are and so it shouldn’t own you.
We shouldn’t be coming up with ways to circumvent what’s already a tsunami when it comes to work and think that we’re clever. We should get ourselves away from the tsunami, unless it’s a short term thing. On a short term goal, yes, you can push it and get through it and you’re going to hit your mark and bam. Then you get your time off.
But if you think you’re being clever, because you’re waking up at 3:30 in the morning and you’ve packed all the kids’ lunches beforehand, and you’ve laid out your clothes and you know exactly what you’re going to look like, so that by six o’clock you’re up and you’re out.
Ladies, no, that’s not living.
Time is valuable. From making time for yourself that truly brings rest and wellbeing for you to time associated with income. Those are the bookends that define the value of time and they are really far apart.
Since a company is not mandated to give you a healthy amount of time off to create a genuine work-life balance. It is up to you to claim it for yourself.
Time off has become a point of negotiation, not just in your initial job offer, but on an annual level as well. Salary, stock options, bonuses tend to be assigned by pay grade for your job title. There may be some wiggle room on the signing bonus upfront, but aside from negotiating your actual job title, the correlating salary is pretty much set within their parameters. It’s always good to ask. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still a very important touchstone because you rise within the company stemming from your initial salary.
But what remains in your favor to negotiate further is time, and in your career, time is money. I know that may sound a little crass, but we do need to be real in this discussion. Our lives are precious. Your time is valuable. Literally. It’s really necessary to acquire your worth; not as payment as though they’re buying you, but in respect by caring for you.
Negotiating PTO into your contract, makes it legally mandatory for a company to pay you for that time, regardless of whether or not you actually take it. This is really important to think through. This is money that would be left on the table if you take the attitude of, oh, I can take time off whenever I want. That unlimited PTO, the unlimited amount that you never take, that’s money left on the table. Or, I can take unpaid time off. No. You are not paying your company to take time off from their demands. They need to pay you out of respect of your value to the company.
Three Areas to Address for PTO
Before we discuss three key aspects to negotiating your PTO. It’s really important that you have a deep understanding of yourself. Free from the stress of work. In other words, think of yourself in your stress free mode and how you frame your days and time then.
Do you wake up early, ready to go? Or totally slogging, even with caffeine. Are you a quiet morning person or a chatty one? Do you like to work through hard moments alone or with the support of others? Do you like to take long breaks during the day and then work at night?
These aspects of your personality are literally embedded in your DNA. If you were to ask your parents. They would tell you whether or not you took naps, what your sleep habits were, what comforted you, what stressed you out? All these traits still exist, but now they’re defined in the parameters of your adult life.
Consider these three aspects when negotiating your PTO and be sure to blend both your personality traits with your life needs, in that coming year. First off, two weeks vacation is probably not enough time for anyone to have a healthy work-life balance. If you look at the countries in our blog post, you’ll realize they are getting six and seven weeks of PTO. That’s holiday and vacation. But straight up, they are getting five weeks of vacation. The first year they’re hired five weeks, not two.
If you think negotiating additional vacation days is going to decrease your salary, as if you’re trading off, then consider the days you lose lying on the sofa, binge watching Netflix because you’re too exhausted to move. That’s not living ladies. That’s survival.
Based on your personality, do you like taking vacation in bulk? Or, multiple long weekends? Do you have international wanderlust? Or are you more of a staycation kind of gal? Answers to these questions help you frame the amount of time you need for a true vacation. Not time to care for children or give birth.
True vacation, one that’s fun and celebratory of living life large.
Second consider your PTO needed to take good care of yourself. This is so important and nobody looks out for you, like yourself. You need time to attend doctor’s appointments, spa days, outdoor activities. All the events needed to provide rest and wellbeing and good health.
Perhaps you’re planning to have a baby, or you want some more time with your child before they start that long, 16 years of school without you.
Taking days off when menstruating and hormones are pulling you off your best moments, will give you the space to soothe your body rather than making it more stressed out by pushing through the pain at work.
Again, based on your personality, do you need a full day off? Or would half days work for you? Would lumping a doctor’s appointment with a spa date be the ticket for full relaxation? One that’s focused fully on you.
How about collaborating with friends during the week and hitting the trails that are totally crowded and stress you out on the weekend. Take real time to catch up over a picnic lunch while being paid out of respect for your brilliance.
How much time do you want to spend with your baby after giving birth? Not including those six weeks of disability, we’ve talked about. Whoever thought a child was disability?
Do you know that it takes six months? Six months to a year for a baby to bond with her mother. Six months, ladies. Not two weeks of vacation time. That’s for later when they sleep through the night and you can actually go to Hawaii and have a good time.
Lastly, consider the PTO required to refuel your brain and soul for creativity and inspiration. Medical science has proven that even having a good sleep after getting stuck in a problem. Is it enough to refuel your brain and discover a new answer. There’s no need to get stuck and frustrated or start doubting your abilities when really all you need is time away from the situation to become empowered and confident again.
It’s brilliant. It’s easy. It’s time away.
This one is definitely more tied to how you operate directly with your type of work and the business structure of your company. Some people like to gear up before a big push by taking time for themselves. Focusing on the goal, clearing distractions from their thoughts. And others like to dive in, go full pedal to the metal and then crash and burn afterwards, in full happiness of a job well done. The real importance is that you determine how many days off you will need throughout the year to make these moments truly successful.
Accept Chaos When It Happens
Even though you try and plan these days in this time off, it still might go awry and you just can’t beat ,yourself up over it. It’s not in your control. Life is definitely organic. And if your day off that you had planned does get kiboshed. It’s okay. In the moment. It’s okay. Put your head down. Get it done. But definitely, definitely after that. Stake your claim. Say, Nope, this is my time now. I did it for you. It’s my time now.
We must start changing this sense of guilt over taking time off. Of losing our sense of value and those who look up to us. We can’t dismiss them all the time. There’s only so much time you get with your friends and family.
We can’t be dedicating everything we are to work because there’s always. Always going to be some drama at work. Not all of it is important. Just like those meetings, just like those emails. They aren’t all important.
It will still be there the next day. That’s another thing I learned really early on at work. I had this huge deadline looming on a very big project and it had to get all of the calculations done and copied. There were probably hundreds of pages. And all the drawings printed. And they all had to be signed and sealed and left for pickup because I was going to be gone two weeks.
I remember working until midnight the night before we were leaving, just to make sure it was already, so they wouldn’t think badly of me. I was so proud of myself for wrapping that package up, for making the company look good. They were going to hit the deadline. I had it all under control.
And when I came back fully rested from my vacation, I walked up to my desk, and, yeah, you know it, that huge package of calcs and drawings was still sitting there. A nice layer of dust over it from the two weeks that no one touched it. It was so important that they made me stay up till midnight, getting five hours sleep before catching that flight.
But apparently someone forgot to tell them to pick it up and submit it.
Those are the moments I’m talking about. Don’t be guilted into feeling like this is absolutely necessary. Even an IPO drop, gets pushed. Literally the only thing that you will fail on missing a deadline, I think, is saving someone’s life. Taking too long or dismissing its urgency may have a really, really negative result.
In all these types of paid time of, the most important aspect is that you schedule time for yourself first. Let the company schedule deadlines around your availability. Not the other way around.
I know you’re rolling your eyes at me like I’m crazy for thinking this as possible. There is no way business could get accomplished if it weren’t for you being there to make it happen. I agree. I agree with you to the extent that you are intelligent and valuable to the company and yes, without you, they may struggle, but that will help them to structure their time better rather than recklessly relying on you to pick up the slack. But truly, especially during the pandemic, we have seen how readily businesses have dismissed employees.
So, why not put yourself first?
Have you pulled out your planners and started framing 2022 yet? Because it’s going to be here before you know it. Figure out those epic vacations you want to take now that some international travel has opened up.
Look ahead to the planned launches you have in your company and begin to hold management to their deadlines by scheduling your time first. I know. There’s going to be crazy moments. Life is organic. Chaos will happen. You may end up needing to just push through a deadline that came up against your vacation time. But as soon as you do push through, take that moment for you.
Make sure you stop. Get off that hamster wheel. And get that time for yourself.
Are you feeling it’s all about you now? I hope so. You deserve it, not because you’ve worked your tail off and need a break, but because you are a valuable person who should be nurtured and respected at work to live your life first, that’s what supports a successful company.
Leadership should be excited for you, should be happy for you. They should be empathetic to your needs to be a very successful professional. I would like to think that any Latina leadership would see that scenario as a waste of life rather than a waste of money.
Remember I’m dropping bonus episodes on Mondays to break the mundanity mood that you all feel in starting up the week again. Bonus episodes are my stories that ended up being cut from the transcripts because it made the episode too long. I literally was silencing myself and that is such a no-no.
I’m prepping the first bonus episode called ‘The Pope Saved Me From Going to Jail’. These are quick 15 minute, no intro, no outro. You know who I am, you know what’s going on? Just get-to-the-story episodes. True story. Not a true crime story. It could have been, but okay. No more spoilers.
Just keep an eye out on our social media @LifeLnxx for the first Monday that will drop. Also, look for the article on our website @lifelnxx.com describing all those beautiful countries that provide amazing paid time off to relish a full life, especially the two that offer extra bonuses, if you buy property there. Does an international work visa sound exciting? Can’t figure out which of the 27 countries you want to work in? Go to the website and click through the read icon for this week’s blog post on international work living.
Now you can do some deep breathing in pure joy that you have a plan for the new you in the new year. It’s never too early to plan a full life of living life large.
Step into your truth, ladies. Ciao.
Really appreciate the time we take to rate and review the podcast, get the backstory and what you’ve heard here today, and reach out to us @lifelnxx.com. That’s L N double X, because it’s about time. It’s about us. Stay in the groove on our social media at LifeLinks and get ready to make your move, ladies!