My Daughter just landed her first real job and with it she got something unheard of, at least in the USA, five weeks of vacation! Most new hires are lucky to get two weeks and have to work decades before even approaching five weeks.
But before you get too envious of all that vacation time it's worth considering that there are serious drawbacks to vacations. In fact, I'm not sure most of us could deal with five weeks of vacation time!
On the one hand we long for time off to alleviate stress, clear our heads, and recharge our batteries. On the other hand, time off can wreak havoc that creates stress, increases our workload when we return, and drains us to the point where we wish we had a vacation from the vacation. Besides, there's always way too much to do at work to take time off.
So, to help balance the scales here are 7 reasons why you may want to reconsider taking time off.
1) Do you really want your employer to know that they can get along without you?
Let's face it, you're irreplaceable and you want to make sure everyone knows you're irreplaceable. Taking time off may just demonstrate that you're not. Why take the chance? You are so much better off sticking around and not only showing everyone how critical you are but also picking up all of the workload for those slackers who do take time off. That will shows them who the smart one is!
2) Can you afford time off?
Vacations are expensive, especially the really long ones. And staycations are, well, useless since you only find things to do around the house that are even more tiring than the things you do at work to make money to pay someone else to do those things around the house for you. You're much better off to just keep working so that you have more money and less time to distract you from the fact that you have no time.
3) What if you take so much time off that you end up reevaluating your priorities?
This has to be one of the greatest risks of any great vacation. At some point, as you stare blankly at the beautiful azure sea, you realize that the rest of your life isn't all that great. Who wants to come to that realization. After all, it may actually cause you to do something to change what you do for those other 50 weeks to make them more meaningful. How disruptive is that?
4) What will your coworkers think when you abandon your post?
This is a corollary to reason #1 although it's more about how your peers will look at you, which is essential if you're going to get ahead. If you want to be a leader then don't you have to work more than they do, and harder, and longer? And while you're at it make sure to point out to them just how much harder and longer you work because everyone wants a boss who sets the bar by working 365 days a year.
5) Don't they give out awards for people who never take vacation days?
Remember in high school how the kids who never missed a day of soccer practice or a single game were held out as role models for teamwork? They even got awards for it. So, that must also apply to your career--I mean, that's why you get paid for all of those unused vacation days, right?
6) What if you actually forget why whatever you were doing was important to begin with?
Not only are you really important (see reasons 1 & 4) but what you do is critical to keeping your organization in business. Heck, maybe it's the cornerstone of the global economy. If you high tail it for Yosemite to scale half dome you may just realize that your career is only one facet of who you are. And then what? You may actually have to take regular vacations to satisfy that deeper passion. Who wants to take that risk?
7) Do you really want to spend that much time with your family?
I know, you love your family. Of course you want to spend more time with them. But why not just do that at home where you don't have to share a sink with three to six other people and you never need to step out of your comfort zone. Making memories is just a highly overrated marketing ploy by the travel and tourism industry. Stay home, It's cheaper, much more convenient, and it's so much easier to stay connected and keep working when you have a reliable, high bandwidth Internet connection. It will be like you never left, and that takes care of all seven reasons!
I could go on, but if you've read this far I'm hoping that at some point before reason #3 you realized that these are all tongue in cheek. They are just a few of the many ridiculous excuses we use to convince ourselves that taking a vacation is a bad idea when in fact our convoluted thinking is evidence enough that we need a vacation to begin with.
The thing about vacations is that we often don't realize how much we really need one until we take it. And while it may be true that we simply don't get enough time off as employees it can be even worse when you're running your own business and trying to justify taking any time off given the perceived risk of what might fall through the cracks while you're gone.
My sincere advice to you is to give your mind and your body a break by making a commitment to take time off. And when I say time off I do mean relatively disconnected time off. I realize that being totally disconnected is nearly impossible, but try to set some boundaries around your vacation time. Yes, you may pay a steep price for the things that don't get the attention they would otherwise but the price you'll pay for not giving yourself the chance to hit the reset button every so often is infinitely higher in terms of you overall well being, creativity, and clarity of perspective. Personally I've found vacations to be incredibly effective disruptors that help me to take a step back and reevaluate my priorities, reset my goals, and adjust my long-term trajectory.
Oh, and by the way, I'm writing this from the sweltering shores of an island in the Mediterranean, where I'm struggling with the implications of having broken everyone of the 7 reasons.
I'll deal with it.