Are You a Future Scrooge?

Posted on December 21, 2015.

One of my favorite Christmas movies is A Christmas Carol.  While watching it the other day, the scene in which Scrooge is whisked away by the Ghost of Christmas Past struck me as particularly poignant.At first, Scrooge is delighted by the happy scenes he’s presented...

but then the other shoe drops.  By the time our cantankerous old protagonist witnesses himself choosing work over his sweetheart, he’s starting to regret his life choices.  The Ghost of Christmas Past, of course, is followed by the Ghost of Christmas Present, in which Scrooge sees just how much he’s missing out on, and then the dreadful Ghost of Christmas Future, where Scrooge is shown just how much his life’s work actually matters.

When watching, all I could think about is how much this tale parallels our modern lives. Work has invaded holidays, special occasions and time off.  We work late, we work weekends, we miss out. We tell ourselves it’s for the greater good, and that there will be other birthdays, holidays, school performances and Saturday nights.

During the holidays, things get even more frenetic. We rush to shop, send out cards, and go to events all while hustling at the office to make year-end goals and wrap up projects.  Hold all the busy up against all that’s going on in the world and one thing becomes clear: we all need to find a better balance. Because who wants to be like Scrooge, putting work before everything else and ending up with a life filled with regrets?

I’m not suggesting we all quit our jobs to go live with our families in an ashram (although a break in a serene place would be nice).  Instead, I am proposing reflection and recalibration.

Do you really need to work an extra four hours or bring your laptop home with you over the weekend? What about your team? If you stay late, do they also feel compelled to do so? Remember that, as manager, you lead by example.

What about all the crazy busy in what’s left of your personal time? How much of that is truly necessary?

Listen, I know the holidays by nature are crazy…in fact, I’ve talked before about strategies for managing the Christmas busy.  But, the truth is, the pace doesn’t really change throughout the year. There’s always some reason we are running around like a cat with its tail on fire.

During this holiday season, take a moment to reflect a little on what your Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future might show you.  If you’re among those who’ve struck that elusive perfect work/life balance, tell us how you did it in the comments below!