October 21, 2014

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N—Just like in the Connie Francis song of the 60s,  the word speaks volumes to the young at heart. It brings up memories of wonderful days basking in the sun and having FUN. Yet, now we have this incredibly insightful Master Card commercial where kids are telling us what fools we are—and yes many, many of us are fools about this.


40,000,000 vacation days left unused a year. As conveyed in this statement from grade school children, that is just crazy!


Why do we do it? Are we so caught up in our businesses, our jobs, making ends meet that we are depriving ourselves of one of the most healthy things we can do for ourselves—take a vacation.


We all know that we earn our vacations through hard work. In fact some of us negotiate the amount of vacation time when getting hired, yet we continue to be “too busy” to relax, spend time with our family, spend time with our friends, walk on the beach, go fishing, go to Disney World, read a good book.


Think about how important that time is with our children that grow up all too fast. As in the commercial—just one more day—smacks us right between the eyes. How important is it to just plain relax, without all the intensities of everyday corporate America, business, traffic, etc.


I heard a motivational CD once that still resonates with me. One of the statements was that when you take vacation, you should “vacate.” Take that trip, sit on the beach, enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, and hobbies. Get away, clear your head. What vacations do is that they refresh, they sharpen your brain and that enables you to be more insightful, more productive, and even more effective.


The downside has always been—how hard we work to get ready to go on vacation and how much catch up we have to do when we return. No doubt that does have its impact, but why. Again, we earned our vacations. Why feel guilty about taking them and enjoying them. The key question should not be that, but should be WHY do we do what we do to make a living, to get ahead in the first place. In most cases, if we are truly honest with ourselves, the reason we work so hard is for our families—yet they are the ones we are depriving, as well as depriving ourselves from the pleasure of spending quality time with them.


I read an excellent book a few years ago called The 4 Hour Work Week. Its author, Timothy Ferriss, conveys some interesting ideas and concepts about vacations, including taking mini-vacations. Again to do just that—vacate. I was one of those that failed to take all of my allotted vacation, losing several days and weeks every year—why—for my company? Believe me, the organizations I worked for, did not care if I failed to take what I had earned. My guess is that is the same for all of you.


Since reading the book, I have aggressively invested in vacations. In fact last year I took 5 vacations, this year it will be 7 vacations. And, boy do I feel great, motivated, more effective, and more productive when I return to work after one of these relaxing vacations. Who then benefits—you, your family, your company—vacations are truly a WIN-WIN situation.


Next time you see the 40,000,000 vacation days commercial, think about it and then ask yourself—how many days have I turned in/not used? Invest in your life. Invest in your family. V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!