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Taking Time Off The Clock

May 12, 2010

As the leader of a business that publishes employee time clock software, we help employers all over the world easily manage their employee time and attendance. I find it a little ironic that my current inspiration has come from some time far away from the punch clock.

Having been immersed in the thrill of leading our fast growing company, I've somehow managed to go nearly eight years without taking a real, completely disconnected, extended vacation. My resolution for 2010 was to remedy this imbalance in my life. So my wife and I decided to celebrate our wedding anniversary by returning to Hawaii for the first time since our honeymoon twenty-two years ago. By the time I returned to work 12 days later, I was deeply impressed by the importance of unwinding, altering the pace, and changing scenery. The following are a few of the things I continue to reflect on a week after my return:

Anticipation adds to the enjoyment of doing.
Prior to our trip, several friends recommended we pick up a travel guide called Maui Revealed. In the week leading up to our departure and while we were gone, my wife and I spent a number of evenings reading the book and discussing things we would like to do and see. Maui Revealed turned out to be an unusually informative, frank, and even funny read that greatly added to the enjoyment of our vacation.  Something unexpected arrived with our reading - the joy of anticipation. We found ourselves looking forward to adventures with excitement. Many experiences were enriched with insights and observations that we most certainly would have otherwise missed. I return from vacation with a renewed appreciation for anticipation. I've made a commitment to be more intentional about anticipating upcoming events in my professional and personal life.

If you haven't experienced wonder lately, you're not completely alive.

One of the our favorite activities on Maui was snorkeling. I cannot begin to explain the sense of wonder I felt each time I drifted along in warm, salty ocean, joining effortlessly in the unhurried life of huge sea turtles and tropical fishes of an amazing array of colors and sizes. The backdrop of coral in pink and blue and green, together with the sea life that lives among them, left me feeling like I was swimming in an enormously beautiful aquarium. Only this was completely organic and therefore unlike man's attempt to capture and imitate the beauty of nature. These adventures comforted me with the knowledge that I belong to a benevolent maker of unimaginable creative genius. Unexpectedly (but I guess not surprisingly) I've discovered a renewed freshness in my own creative impulses.

Life is richer when you enjoy others.
Another unexpected highlight of our trip was the Wednesday evening we spent at Warren and Annebelle's in Lahaina Town on Maui. We started the evening with such fantastic food, service, and conversation that I would have gladly paid double for the privilege. A two hour show followed that completed one of the most enjoyable evenings we have had together. Warren Gibson is a close-up magician with hilarious comedic timing and pretty amazing showmanship. The evening reminded me how important it is to break from my own world of activity to enjoy someone else's talents and abilities. We have committed to one another that we're going to get out a little more often!

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
It's an old truism, I know. But the truth is that as the vacation ended, I returned with a new vividness in my life. As I rode my bike that first day back, I was struck by the sights and sounds and smells in the beautiful park I ride through on my way to work. I wondered how long I had been so dull towards the world and people around me.

It's one thing to know, or even say, that there is more to life than the pleasure of a job well done, even a job well loved. It's quite another to experience more of life by actually stepping completely away from the daily routine and responsibilities.  I welcome the balance and perspective it has brought as I once again find it's time to punch the clock.

Keith DeLong

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