Who Needs a Vacation?

Vacation is defined by Webster as “an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.”  Hmmm, that sounds a bit bland.  Let’s get down to some basic questions.

What is a vacation?  A break from the day-to-day grind.

Who needs a vacation? You do; we all do.

What do we do on vacation?  “A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it.”  (Robert Orben, comedy writer)

The sad irony is that Americans leave a lot of vacation days on the table, never to be used.  According to the US Travel Association, in 2016 a total of 662 million vacation days went unused.  Glassdoor statistics indicate that the average American only takes half of their allotted vacation days on an annual basis and that this trend has been going on for some time.

Why don’t we take vacations?  There are a number of reasons.

Fear tops the list of reasons.  Going on vacation and being out of touch with the job means to many people that they are replaceable and that’s a scary concept.  With the prevalence of ‘employment at will’ in many US companies, fear of job loss is the number one reason to avoid taking a vacation.

“No one can do what I do.”  Many people feel that way.  Perhaps it’s true in some cases; however, most companies have cross-trained employees who can step in when needed to cover critical areas.

Try getting a dedicated employee to take a few days off.  It’s a tough sell, likely impossible.  For some, the job is who they are and taking a break is just not an option in their minds. They live and breathe work; it’s what they get up for in the morning.  Dedication coupled with the intent to meet all the goals set for them equates to a laser-focused employee.  Vacation is not an option – ever.

Inability to disconnect from the job thanks to technology impacts vacations.  For those who actually do take a vacation, that cell phone and laptop you brought along means your office is right there with you.  While your family members are lounging on the beach, golfing, or enjoying a leisurely stroll, you’re on the phone or typing away.  You just moved your office to a nicer view (assuming you look up once in a while to get a glimpse).

My, my isn’t this depressing?  What can we do about it?  Let’s explore!

First, try managing the fear factor.  It’s true that today’s work environment is intense, but working yourself into the ground is not going to benefit you or your work. A mental break to a different place will result in a refreshed spirit with a hefty shot of energy to boot. That’s a good thing.

Knowing that the weight of a job isn’t dragging you down, that the office can function without you for a short period will relieve stress.  Take that weight off; lighten your load and that will help you enjoy your work once more.

There’s no fault in dedication or goal achieving, as long as it’s not at the sacrifice of your health and well-being.  Ensuring a good work/life balance is a win-win for you and the work you take such pride in.

Perhaps taking a day or two off before trying a weekend-to-weekend vacation is a good way to ease into actually enjoying time away from the office.  Use that same rationale for unplugging from technology.  Allow a set amount of time to check in, then unplug and enjoy your family and have some fun.

You need your vacation!  Make some get-away plans for the summer.  Have fun!


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