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Americans forfeit roughly half of their earned vacation days--this despite the fact that working in high-stress jobs can increase the number of health ailments that one faces. A 2014 American Psychology Association report found that stress is linked to an array of psychological symptoms that include irritability, anxiety, and decreased motivation. According to the APA’s report, 60 percent of stress is reportedly caused by work.

A recent study performed by the Harvard Business Review surveyed more than 5,000 Americans who work over 35 hours a week. The study found that by 2015, Americans were taking almost a week less of vacation per year than they did in 2000, down from almost three weeks to two. An additional study found that 55 percent of Americans leave vacation days unused. Yet it is estimated that 94 percent of vacations, if planned well, result in improved energy and outlook when you return to work. Thus, if we are more effective, efficient, and creative when taking periodic breaks, a good case can be made that vacations are not a luxury, but a necessity.

Steven Kadoch, managing partner at Ultimate Jet Vacations, a 2017 Inc. 5000 company, says that getting out of the office can help you think of the big picture and what’s next for your professional or business life. Kadoch emphasizes the importance of building a personalized vacation. Whether it’s a trip to an all-inclusive resort in Cabo or a safari in Tanzania, Kadoch suggests not rushing through the process, but instead planning your vacation in a very individualized way. “Think about what you and your family enjoy, not just that hot spot where your friend went and how much they spent.”

Similarly, Durée M. Ross, president and CEO of the PR firm Durée & Co., believes that “vacations are critical to renew and refresh in all industries and at all pay grades.” As she says, “without taking time to recharge the batteries, it’s easy to get burned out, no matter your professional level.” For Ross, vacations give her the room to clear her head and take a break from the day-to-day of running a firm. She says that most of her best business ideas come to her while she is hiking a mountain or cruising the ocean.

When it comes to planning a vacation, both Kadoch and Ross point to the importance of working with a travel agent to make the experience less stressful. Kadoch suggests “using a travel professional … to get expert advice combined with savings and perks. Also, you can rest easy knowing that should there be any inconvenience, someone has your back.”

When we are on vacation and feel some sense of distance from the hustle and bustle of our daily routine, Kadoch says, life feels good again and gives us the chance to come back to work with more energy and focus. And seeing vacations as Ross does--as a non-negotiable requirement that we need to “grow, expand, recharge, and renew”--can lead to improved outcomes for your clients, your employees, and your personal relationships.


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