Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Do You Need a Vacation?

If we assume the average vacation time for American workers is 14 days, then it might be reasonable to assume many workers could use more vacation time. However, it has been determined the typical male worker does not even use all of the vacation time he's allotted. One figure I read indicates the American workforce forfeits 175 million unused vacation days at the end of the year. That would be some vacation!

American males, in particular, seem to look at vacation time as wasted time. Our work ethic kicks in so much that we are always "on the job" -- whether we're physically there or not. We tend to take our jobs home with us -- either in our briefcases or in our heads. It seems normal in a way, for many of us define ourselves by our work. We are what we do. If we're not doing something work related, we feel strangely disengaged -- not fully who we are. Hence we view a vacation as time away from who we are.

But is vacation time really just wasted time?

A real, recharging kind of vacation happens when one is away from the job -- physically, emotionally and mentally. One premium benefit of vacation time then becomes a rest form the daily pressure and stress of our jobs. Stress is a subtle danger too, often affecting us in ways we don't see or realize. It can impact our health on several levels. Time away from job-related stress allows our body to recover and restore.

Vacation time spent with loved ones also makes memories that can last a lifetime for everyone involved. I'll never forget the camping trips dad took us on, sizzling bacon in a cast-iron skillet, fishing in deep-water mountain lakes, hearing family stories over a campfire at twilight. Those vacations showed us a different side of dad -- one not centered on going to and from work.

I personally have given back vacation hours over the years, but this year I plan on spending some quality time away from the job. I'll be knocking around with my family, relaxing in an exotic location I haven't been to near enough lately -- my own backyard.

How about you? Do you need a vacation? Is there a backyard calling your name?

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