The summer is winding down, preseason football has started, the stores are jammed with school supplies and backpacks, signaling an end to a season.
I hope you had a chance to take a vacation, rest and have some fun with family and friends. I unplugged completely with a seven-day canoe trip in Canada. Off the grid for seven days.
I know some of you may have skipped a vacation or cut it short. I personally believe you need, at a minimum, 10 days to really get the benefits of being, quote, off. There is a large population of workers who do not take any time off. Fifty one percent have not taken a week off in over a year and 36% have not taken any time off in two years. (We will explore why in a minute.)
The term vacation originates from – a time when students and teachers would:
Vacate the premises
I like that term.
I always thought it was cruel to have 3 months off for summer for 22 years and then once you started working, you had to battle for two weeks or even a long weekend.
We all know how important it is to get some time off, downtime to rejuvenate, see some sights or maybe stay at home.
It seems not taking time off is some badge of honor to demonstrate how hard you work. I know when I hear how “busy” everyone is, it makes me cringe. Busy has become some hero status, which is unhealthy and as we all know, busy does not equate to being productive or meaningful.
So, if you are not taking a vacation, you may need to stop and ask yourself, what are you trying to prove? and to whom?
Common excuses I hear for not taking a vacation:
I am too busy at work.
I can’t afford it.
My team will mess things up while I am gone.
I am too busy at work is code for:
It will hurt my career if I take time off.
I value being in the office more than my own personal health and well-being.
I need to be in the office to demonstrate I am committed.
I can’t afford it – is code for:
Staying at home is boring.
I have not taken the time to plan my finances to support a trip.
You believe that a vacation represents an expensive trip.
My team will mess things up while I am gone is code for:
I can’t trust myself or my team. They might make me look bad.
I am more worried about what is going on at the office, than what a vacation can do for me personally.
I will be viewed as invaluable if I leave for too long.
I can see how these mindsets and beliefs get in the way of truly taking a vacation or even enjoying one. There is a belief system in our culture that overworking makes you valuable and productive. It is a belief system that needs changing. The leaders in corporate America who perpetuate this belief by their own behavior, need to lead the charge.
I worried about being gone too, having my team exposed and a host of other non-essential reasons for not going on vacation.
(Although I have been good at taking a vacation, I’m not so sure I was good at enjoying them. Too worried about what I was coming back too. This year’s vacation did not have those overtones.)
The bottom line is that you made a choice to value your work or your presence at work, believing it was more important and the payoff was better to stay at the office.
Maybe you will be rewarded for your hard work and dedication. But more likely, you will be sacrificing your health and sanity.
Vacation is a choice. Hey, if you love to work, work. But most of us need some extended downtime to stay productive, sharp and live a well-rounded life.
And trust me:
The work is not going anywhere.
Your team will be fine.
Those projects always get done.
Most things turn out just great and as a bonus, you went on vacation.
So, if you have not already, vacate the premises.