Off and on over the years I have taken vacation time. It is only recently that I have been conscious of its value. There have been times when I felt too busy to leave work. Other times I thought my work was at a crucial juncture and it wouldn't get accomplished without me. All solo professionals know that the revenue generation stops while the owner is away. For me that is yet another reason not to vacation. I know I am not alone in making excuses not to take a vacation. According to the Take Back Your Time organization "43% of American workers didn't even take a solid week off." People in other counties are much better at taking their vacation time. What are the benefits of taking a vacation?
1. Gain Perspective on Life - During day to day work our minds are caught up with the problems and activities of the job. Vacations are times for a change of pace. A great vacation might cause you to think, "This is what life is about!" Ask yourself - Do you live to work or work to live?
2. Wards Off Burn Out - Vacations give you time to relax, de-stress and let go. Constant stress on the job can lead to burn out. Recovering from burnout requires lots on non work time.
3. Enhances Creativity - Any down time in which you let the daily worries go leaves room for new thinking and creativity. So many clients tell me that just as they are going to bed at night millions of new ideas pop into their heads. Vacations set the stage for letting ideas flow during and after your time off.
4. Family or Self Time - When I was 10 years old my parents took me on a trip to visit relatives in North Bay, Ontario. It was a long drive from Massachusetts but to this day I remember it as a wonderful experience. A vacation allows you to spend quality time with your family or by yourself. During my vacations I usually travel alone. A trip to a spa or going someplace new alone can also be a renewing and exciting event.
5. A Rest for Your Body and Mind - How refreshing to let go of daily tasks and relax into something new! It gives your mind a rest and if you have strenuous work it gives your body a rest too. Even if your work isn't physically strenuous it allows you time to listen to your body and pay attention. Many physical illnesses come from a lack of down time and stress.
6. Get Appreciation - It is nice to be missed and frequently when someone is on vacation those who work with him or her suddenly realize how much that person does and how valuable he/she is to the organization. Of course the reverse could happen too. If you discover that you were not missed, then you will need to work on finding ways to add value to your work or your job will be in jeopardy. A coach can help you!
7. Appreciate Your Job - Having unstructured time to do what you want to do is fun initially. At the end of my vacation however I feel really energized and excited to get back to the structured environment of my work. Of course this is because I love my work. If you find yourself dreading going back to work, you need to find out what the problem is and get it resolved. A coach can help you here too.
8. Time to Think about Career -The Wisconsin Medical Journal reports on a study on 1500 women between 1996 and 2001 that shows that vacations help employees do a better job. Vacations give people time to think. Some employees might contemplate how to do a better job and others might think about how to get a better job! Thinking about what constitutes meaningful work might give some criteria for a new job.
9. Fewer Regrets - The late Paul Tsongas who was a Senator from Massachusetts once said "Nobody on his deathbed ever said ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office'. Now is the time to begin living the life you love. Vacations allow you to think about what makes you happy and what constitutes meaningful work.
10. Expands the Mind - Vacations give you time to see, hear or read something new. Whether you take a trip, go to concerts, or get caught up on your reading, vacations give you the space to do something that is different and new. A change in routine gives you all sorts of new possibilities.
Vacations are good for employers too. Joe Robinson, author of the book Work to Live, says that vacations improve productivity and profits. At one company he cited sales increased 15 percent, a staff turnover problem was eliminated, and performance improved so much that the company was able to get rid of overtime.