Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Case for Vacation

When I started my first full time job after college I was determined to work diligently, do more than was expected and work as many hours as necessary to get the job done and stand out. Loving the company and the work didn't hurt either. But I wasn't so concerned with taking too many vacation days and even with taking a few trips home and having family visit, I stacked up vacation days like no other. I know many people who do this, capping their days so they stop accruing. My Dad worked so much he had built up month's of vacation! Other than taking time for our wedding and honeymoon a few years back, I was well on my way down this road. It was almost a game to see how many days someone could roll over!

When I was diagnosed with Cushing's Disease I was hit with a major reality check. I realized this whole thing was crazy! Why am I spending my life in my office? I would eat breakfast and lunch each day at my desk, and sometimes dinner too. Crazy.

A study done earlier this year by the research firm StudyLogic of 1500 people found that by August, 22% of the respondents had not taken any vacation or planned to. Of that 22% most said they were either too stressed out by work responsibilities to take time off or too busy to plan a vacation. What's almost worse is that 64% said they either cancelled or postponed vacation due to work.

I think part of this is due to our culture, and has been for a long time. The average number of vacation days in many European countries can total a month or more each year. In the US, we're lucky to have 10. There's a sense that doing nothing, or relaxing, is also being lazy. And when you're trying to advance in your job, or just keep your job in this economy, being lazy is not something to be proud of. The problem though, is that by not taking vacation days, we're doing a disservice to ourselves, our loved ones and our employers.

We need vacations to stay balanced. Even for those of us who relieve stress with running, yoga, swimming, biking, cooking, etc. need a real break from our daily life. We need to change things up to keep our minds and souls fresh. By taking vacation, we're less likely to burnout from long work weeks and high stress. Vacation is a time to unplug and reconnect with ones self and loved ones. We can discover new hobbies and interests. When we return from vacation, we're refreshed and (after a little adjustment) ready to tackle projects again with more creativity and a new outlook.

One key thing to remember though - set boundaries. Keep the blackberry turned off. For most of us, the world won't end if we don't respond to a work email immediately! Enjoy where you are and who you're with.

Most of you know I started a new job at the end of the Summer. I'm thankful to have it, but now I have fewer vacation days to enjoy so I need to be smart about how I use them. Part of me is happy that this company doesn't let us roll over days because it means I have to use them next year or I loose them! Just like I'm planning what races to run next year, Woody and I started discussing our vacations. We both have quite a few places on our 'must visit' lists, and we need to start checking them off! For next year we're planning on a long weekend in Florida for my mother-in-law's Birthday, a long weekend in Philly for my Birthday/Broadstreet 10 Mile Run, another long weekend in either North or South Carolina, a week in Seattle, and at least one more long weekend in Michigan in October for my Dad's Birthday/MSU football game/Detroit Half Marathon. I am really excited about these trips and can't wait to start planning! (If you have advice on which Summer month is the best to visit the Carolina's or Seattle, I'd love to hear it!)

Work is important to me, and I still do my best and intend to advance within the company, but I am not letting my life slip by me while I do it. It's not good for anyone involved and it's much more fun this way!

 you can't convince me that you wouldn't want to spend a week here!
We were so relaxed on our honeymoon it spilled over for weeks when we got home!
What's your take on vacation days? Do you use all of yours? 
today's workout -
unfortunately, none. I woke up to howling winds and rain so I reset my alarm and decided to switch my rest day. I'll go Friday instead!


Copychic said...

I have vacation days, but I always feel guilty using them. This is a great reminder to take them when I can and appreciate what I've got! :)

Beautiful photos!

Kirstie said...

I ALWAYS use my vacay days. Never rolling them. I enjoy them more than I can plan trips around races and actually use them away from home. I planned a 4 day Mexican mini-vacay last year two days before we left. It was badly needed and did just the trick. My Scottish family gets LOADS of vacay time and take trips all over the world. Very jealous of holiday time there.

Emz said...

I love this post!!
"We need vacations to stay balanced." MOST AGREED!!!

stephchows said...

I totally use all of mine! Sometimes more haha. I take days to just chill at home, days to travel to see family, and days to go somewhere with my husband. Whatever it is though I'm taking those days :) Even if it's just to lay in my hammock in my back yard and read a book :)

lindsay said...

I have no problem with being lazy :) my job is good about vacation - you earn 5+ weeks per year of vacation. Ive racked a bunch up but I take some time off too. I could probably chill out and use more vacation time but for the past two years I saved some up in case they had to put me on a leave of absence with the economy troubles.

Karen said...

I definitely take vacations! LOL :0) That view looks amazing!!!

April said...

Such a great topic! People need breaks and shouldn't be ashamed/guilty to take them!