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It’s early January, a Sunday evening, and I’m sitting in a hotel room writing this column, wishing I was somewhere else. Actually, wishing I was sitting in my comfortable chair, with a homemade bowl of chili and my favorite beer next to me, a fire in the fireplace and a football game on TV.

I was not ready for this. The first trip to the first show of the New Year is always tough, but this year it came earlier than usual. And this year I didn’t feel like I got enough time to relax and recharge over the holidays. The holidays this year were nothing but a blur of constant activity, starting with my return from the EDPA ACCESS Conference in early December and continuing all the way through this afternoon when I got on an airplane.

My travel schedule the first three months of the year is always crazy; second only to the period from mid-August through late November. That’s why the holiday break is so important for me to catch my breath, rest, relax, recharge and get ready to go after it in the first quarter. But this year I feel like I’m starting with significantly less energy than I typically do.

I’m thinking we need to change the way our culture addresses this whole idea of work. Perhaps we should take a look back at how we did college. My daughter is home from college for almost a month. She is a double major, and works very hard, very long hours throughout the semester. She pushes herself through finals and then comes home for a long break before going back at it again.

During that break, she pretty much does nothing. She sleeps until noon, watches some of her favorite movies, hangs out with a few friends and goes shopping with Mom.

I kind of like that idea. Can we implement something like that in the workplace? A ‘semester’ long period of intense work followed by a short period of complete and total rest and relaxation? But we all have to do it together, so we all get rested up at the same time.

I think our European friends may have it figured out a little better than we do. At least most of them take a longer holiday in the summer than most Americans. And when they shut it down for that period of time, it is shut down, not just moved to wherever they are.

Perhaps it’s the nature of our industry. Shows seem to happen more and more at any time of the year. The seasonality of our business seems to be flattening out and spreading out. We don’t have those really slow times we used to have – at least not in the December/January time any more.

We are in an industry that requires a tremendous amount of attention to detail and deadlines, and can have intense pressure to perform. We all know that. We all deal with it every day. And after a while it can wear you down if you’re not careful. And if you’re not intentional about taking breaks.

So maybe it’s just me. Maybe I have forgotten how to turn it off and rest. Maybe after all these years of doing this I’ve lost the ability to turn it off and rest. Maybe I need to work harder at resting more. Did I really just say that…work harder…at resting? Oh boy, he may be beyond help…somebody get him into his chair. And get him a bowl of chili and a beer.

See you on the show floor.

Jim Obermeyer has been in the trade show industry over 30 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house executive. He is now a partner in a new company: Reveal: Exhibiting a World of Difference. He can be reached at jobermeyer@revealexhibits.com.

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