It’s time for a vacay!
Did I just make you break out in hives? You’re not alone. Taking leisure time off drives many people to any number of uncomfortable feelings — guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, disgust — most of which result in vacation procrastination. These feelings are not inevitable, mind you. They’re a condition of our “culture of capitalism.” That’s not to say capitalism is inherently bad, but the unwillingness to benefit from a break may be holding you back in life (not just in your career). There’s another way.
Consider how different parts of the world view vacation time. The USA Today article On holiday: Countries with the most vacation days states, “The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation.” It’s hard to believe people feel lazy, bad, worthless, or unsuccessful for taking their earned time off. (Not to mention the implications on paid maternity and paternity leave, but we’ll leave that for another day.)
What do these other countries know that we don’t? Hint: vacation time improves work performance. How are the people in these countries benefiting in ways that U.S. citizens aren’t? Hint: rejuvenation, increased creativity, better relationships and improved quality of life.
There’s nothing wrong, per se, with prioritizing your career but the most content people I know effectively balance work, family and personal time. Your career may (or may not) benefit from avoiding relaxation and time off, but your personal life will most likely suffer. If aspects of your personal life deteriorate, it will most likely affect your career in time.
The next time you hesitate to cash in your paid time off, remind yourself that you’ve earned it, you deserve it and you owe it to your career to take it.
To your emotional health,