If you haven't heard me talk about Take Back Your Time Day -- October 24th. -- it is a day to call attention to the dire need in this country for better balance between work and the rest of life. Compared to other industrialized countries, even Japan, we're way overworked, overstressed, and our productivity does not measure up to the hours we put in. If we lived in Europe and had put in the number of hours the typical American will have worked by 10/24, we (in Europe) would have the rest of the year off. With the combination of fewer hours per week at work, holidays and 4-6 weeks of vacation, Europeans typically work 9 weeks less than we do.
Time Day is a national movement coordinated by Seattle documentary producer John DeGraaf. John called together a number of local and national sources to contribute to the handbook by the same title--Take Back Your Time. I'm delighted to be among that group. I co-authored, along with Seattle career counselor Larry Gaffin and Portland wellness educator and mentor/coach Barbara Schramm, a chapter called "A New Bottom Line." In it we point out that apart from the old familiar bottom line there is another bottom line to pay attention to--that of a life well-lived, one that has work and life in a sustainable balance.
When I heard of John's vision for the movement, I was convinced that he needed the coaching perspective in the book because of our emphasis on helping clients strike that optimum work/life balance. I'm very pleased to represent that perspective in the blend of our chapter. By claiming a role in the vision for TBYT, coaches can be a chief agent of change for society as a whole on this critical issue. There is coaching as a relatively new thing that helps people take charge of their lives and be more alive and effective, achieving the life they most want to live. But, in my view, coaching can also be the most effective catalyst for sweeping social change. If the vision on an individual level can change, the vision collectively held can change. And if you can do that, you can change the system.
After the first Earth Day in 1970, within 3 years Congress passed the Clean Air and Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Part of John's vision is that Take-Back-Your-Time Day will start to generate similar momentum for societal awareness and change. Shifting the vision to one more sane and sustainable requires calling attention to how we're currently looking in the rear view mirror as we try to drive forward into the future, compelled by the circumstances of life-as-usual rather than by how the future could be. The movement has caught on in major cities in and US and Canada and in places small and removed, such as Bement, IL and Kotzebue, AK. Visit www.timeday.org for details.
In conjunction with the movement, another piece to report--this one more fun than anything else. At one of our organizational meetings, John De Graaf commented offhandedly, "You know, there should be a song for the movement--something that starts "Take me out of the workplace." Check "THE REAL LIFE GAME--An Anthem for Overworked (North) America".