Who says you have to work nine to five? Who says you have to work five days a week? You can change these notions to mold your life’s experiences. Pull yourself out of your current reality. I know it’s hard, but the only way to accept new things is to challenge the way you’re being conditioned. Our work world is completely built around a nine to five work schedule with hoards of employees locked in their cubicles like barn yard animals in pens.
Getting off the work treadmill isn’t some faraway notion; it’s a reachable reality even as companies basically take from you as much as, and more, than you’re willing to give them. Even though, Amercians work more hours a year compared to most countries, Mexico, more so, and Canada, working slightly less, it’s still possible to change your approach. The life-balance varies from country to country, but it’s clear that we’re overworked. I don’t think anyone would disagree. What we can do is to learn from the cultural influences of such countries as the Netherlands, which seems to have found, against all pressure to change them, a recipe for balance that seems to be working.
It is indeed possible to change your normal. A book by Jacob Vossestein, Dealing with the Dutch, details how the Dutch have done just that. He explains that people in the Netherlands are highly sceptical of the hierarchical work environment and don’t envy those who climb its rank like Americans, Canadians, or Brits would, whose self-esteem is closely tied to work.
Incredibly, the Netherlands passed legislation that gives employees the right to modify their working hours. Organizations can only refuse based on the grounds of sound business reasons. What’s really cool is that this has resulted in some significant social changes that North Americans can only dream of. Survey after survey have shown that employee satisfaction has increased and companies, in turn, have increased their ability to attract and retain employees.
The funny thing is that as more people work part-time or reduced hours in the United States or Canada, eyes immediately turn to the economy and the naysayers begin to propagate lost full-time jobs and the failure of fiscal policy. We automatically equate this to external factors beyond the control of employees. Yet, in countries like the Netherlands, it’s seen as a conscious choice to seek a more balanced life. Sadly, we’ve become so engrained with the notion of the nine to five life that we instinctively accept the status quo.
If a country can change the notion of what’s considered normal, then surely we can change the notion of what ‘work’ means to us and how we want to achieve it.
Are you ready to embrace flexibility?
Feel free to share your answer in the comments.