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As much as I have enjoyed my career, there was never doubt in my mind that vacation days were important to take. Afterall, I loved to travel, and taking time off from work to recharge and relax was critical to my well-being.
I am happy to share that that in the years I have been working, there has never been any issue with me taking time off. It was never looked down upon; nor was I was ever seen as being “not serious enough” about my career.
Imagine my surprise when I read an article that cited research, claiming that in the US, employees are only taking half (54%) of their vacation days.
Further studies report that approximately two-thirds (66%) are working when they’re away on holiday.
My mind was boggled. I have never even considered not taking leave, nor have I ever considered working while away.
And while yes, there are situations where it isn’t realistic to take our vacation days, the majority of us actually can take leave. If you are a sole business owner or a CEO of a company, I could probably understand why it may be difficult to take vacation time. But for the rest of us?
We definitely can take our vacation days.
Heres why you need to take time off from work:
1. We aren’t as important as we think we are
I know, this point reeks of self-deprecation, but hear me out!
How many times have you thought “oh, but I couldn’t possibly take time off – how will my team/work/manager survive without me??”
Yes, we all add value to the workplace.
But honestly? Not to sound morbid, but if you died tomorrow, would the company you work at collapse? Would they really struggle to survive without you?
Chances are, your team would be heartbroken about losing you. But you’re replaceable – we all are. People quit, leave their jobs every day. Teams and companies just don’t collapse because of the absence of a single individual.
I don’t make this point to emphasize the replaceability of us all, but rather I want everyone to look at the big picture. Yes, we add value, yes we are important. But we are not so important that we sacrifice vacation time and spending time with our families. Which leads me onto the second point…
2. Vacation time is the perfect time to reconnect with your loved ones
How many of us struggle in our daily lives to spend quality uninterrupted time with our significant other or our families? It’s the nature of life – stuff simply happens.
Sometimes it’s hard fitting in quality time with your family, uninterrupted by emails, messages, and work phones. But a vacation regardless of your travel style is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones.
One of my favorite breaks was taking 2 weeks of vacation time across Christmas, and traveling to Finland. My husband and I spent one week in Finnish Lapland, where we had zero phone reception and very little internet access. It was pure heaven. We spent nights curled up in bed, with the lights switched off and the curtains wide open, waiting for the Northern Lights to appear. We had never spent a vacation so completely isolated before, and it was the perfect opportunity to spend time together.
While I don’t expect everyone to want to go to an isolated area in Lapland, there are plenty of other vacations you can take that will give you time to re-connect with your loved ones.
3. It’s the perfect opportunity to unwind and relax
Do you run off pure-adrenaline in your every day? Some of us (myself included!) do this, without even realizing. It’s crazy how much harder our bodies have to work when we’re under pressure.
For me, when I was working full time, this lead to illness, and it was only when I took extended leave that I realized how much stress was impacting my health.
Have you ever bumped into a colleague that just got back from a 2-week vacation glowing and brimming with happiness? I know I have! Taking time off from the regular stresses of life – regardless of whether you take 2 weeks or 2 days can do wonders for your stress levels.
I remember taking off 1 day of vacation leave on the side of a long weekend and heading away on a road trip along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. While I only had 4 days away, it felt like weeks. We visited cute organic cafes, went hiking along the coast and ate fish and chips on the beach. It seemed like a lifetime away. Regardless of whether you take 2 weeks of vacation time or 2 days, taking the time to relax from work will help your health and your mindset.
Beautiful views along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria
4. Taking vacation time can be good for your career
Yes, you read that correctly – it can be good for your career! There are two main reasons why…
Firstly, who do you respect more in the work place? The person who works their butt off, doesn’t take any time for themselves, and looks tired and exhausted all the time? OR, the person who works their butt off, but is relaxed, and respects themselves and their well-being enough to take time off from work to spend time with their loved ones?
The point of the matter is, is that we respect people more when they have respect for themselves and their well-being. Working yourself into the ground while sounds noble, signals to the world that your well-being isn’t important enough. But demanding respect, and demanding (or politely asking!) for time off signals that you know you’re important enough.
And the second reason why taking vacation time can be good for your career?
How many times have you been stuck on an issue or a problem, had when you weren’t even thinking about it, had the most amazing-mind-shattering-realization about how you can tackle this issue, in the most inappropriate place? For me, I always have crazy realizations and thoughts when I’m in the shower, and I know this.is.not.just.me! When our minds are relaxed, we’re more readily able to problem solve.
How many of us have struggled with something, and decided to walk away for a moment, only to come back 5 minutes later, and look at the issue in an entirely different light? Taking time off from work and the stresses can help us look at things and issues we’re facing differently. While you don’t need to take weeks off to do this, even a few days or even a weekend break can really help us problem solve in the workplace!
Taking vacation days in your first few years of your career can be daunting. After all, you don’t want to seem like a lazy-un-grateful-youngster. But, there are so many benefits from taking time off. It’s not only good for your health, a great opportunity to connect with your loved ones, but it also signals to your colleagues that you respect yourself.
What about you? Have you ever been afraid to take your vacation days?
Leave me a comment and let me know!
Want to read more about taking vacation days? I’ve got some articles you may be interested in!
- How to ask for vacation time without annoying your boss
- How to travel the world AND keep your full-time job