I didn’t have the opportunity to take a vacation this year. For some reason, the stars never aligned to make it happen. A few things contributed to the situation. I have a new role (along with my other commitments), and we are also renovating an older home. As you might expect, our resources have been diverted to goals such as staircases and a functional HVAC system. Then we just couldn’t agree on when and where to go. “Re-charging” just was not in the cards.
The outcome of my neglect feels very real. A little like pulling an all-nighter — with no desire to sit for the exam.
This is not a “good thing” — as Martha would say.
The research has shown that many of us fail to take time off, even when we have earned vacation days to do so. For some odd reason, we don’t like to admit that time off is necessary — or we fear we’ll look weak — or uncommitted to our work. This lack of attention to rest is costly in so many ways. I can only say, that if I’m representative of what it is like to not have a break, no one should skimp.
Sustaining “us” — is in part our own responsibility. We shouldn’t need to be reminded that we are important.
Here’s what has happened:
- I’m observing signs of burn-out. Yes, I lack my usual level of enthusiasm for the tasks I normally love. I’ve coached myself to care, as the “Joy Factor” has taken a dip. That’s a sad commentary.
- I’m losing my sense of humor, especially where work is concerned. I don’t laugh nearly enough — and laughing is vastly under-rated. We need these moments to off-set stress.
- I’m a bit of a pain in the a##. I’m sure it has to do with the above. No further explanation needed. Sorry for the language.
- Inspiration is waning. I require new sources of stimulation to stay at the top of my game. A change of scenery always does great things for me. We really shouldn’t expect to be at our best, after completing a year-long mental marathon.
- I’m starting to fantasize about a new line of work. Now, this is simply ridiculous. However, I can easily see why many of us take these feelings as a sign that our roles are the problem. It’s not.
Here is what I’m doing:
- I’m exploring my local environment. I’m unchaining myself from my desk and getting out there (cell phone muted). I’m stopping by the Farmer’s Market, and checking out the museums and gardens. Inspiration is really all around us.
- I’m aiming to meet more people face-to-face. I’m completely inspired by the career journeys of others. I’m making a point to visit college campuses this fall, to talk to students about their future work lives. (let me know if you’d like me to visit yours.)
- I’m taking a series of shorter weekend trips. Nothing works like the real deal. Michigan is beautiful in the fall and I’m determined to see it.
- I’m telling founders, managers and leaders to take their vacations (and to let everyone know). Nothing cements a needed change more completely, than a strong message that time off is a respected practice.
What are your strategies to take a break when vacations are impossible to schedule? Share your thoughts.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and coach. She holds the role of Senior Consultant at Allied Talent, bringing the principles of The Alliance to organizations worldwide.