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Vacation (or lack thereof and thoughts as to why)

Vacations are good for us. They enhance our productivity, happiness and health.

I have an awkward relationship with vacations. I think about them – wish for them – have plenty of days to take them – and yet it’s July 27th and I’ve taken not taken more than one day off here and there this year. I’ve heard the recent stories on NPR about how
Vacations are good for us. They enhance our productivity, happiness and health.

. I believe this to be true, and strongly encourage and support my team in taking time off. I look at friends’ Facebook posts of their vacations with envy – Hawaii, Iceland, Up North, Out West, Paris, the beach, family reunions and I have a keen sense of longing. Yet, here I sit! In Germany the median number of paid vacation days is 30 as compared to the US where the median number of paid vacation days is 15. Even so, the median number of paid vacation days left unused in Germany is 0 compared to 4 in the US (Expedia).Why is it so hard to take time off?

Here is the list of excuses….

  • Who has time to plan for fun? That feels like more work! Being the only planner in a family is tough.
  • Other people’s schedules (like my kids and husband and wider family – year round school/college/part time jobs) add a layer of complexity to planning.
  • The overtime before and after a vacation to catch up at work creates a sense of dread. While the anticipation of time off is nice, the anticipation of the let down when it is over holds me back. This may require therapy.
  • Oh yes, it costs money to leave town.
  • And for some insane reason we rescued a pound puppy in June.

Here is the list of privilege that I need to acknowledge in writing on this topic…

  • I receive ample PAID vacation time.
  • I am absolutely certain that taking a vacation will not endanger my job.
  • I have an excellent team who will cover for me while away.
  • I work in an environment where people actually take vacation.

Likely at a deeper level, sometimes I have a scarcity mentality about vacation days. Kind of like saving for a rainy day. And then slowing down is just plain hard for me. I’ve tried mini staycations, but I think for me they are a myth. I tried not working on July 4th weekend and ended up repainting the downstairs bathroom – it was raining. I’ve realized that I say I’ll take a full day off and end up running errands, doing things for the kids…and checking email. I feel I am likely not alone in this challenge. Does this sound at all familiar?

SO, where does this leave me? It is time to practice what I preach. I definitely could use the boost that clearing my mind and changing up my schedule could give to my creativity and personal reserves. My team has been dropping hints about how relaxed and happy I was after I took a vacation in 2013. I pledge to make this happen – don’t call me in mid-November – I may be out of the office!

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