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Why a Vacation Is a Good Career Move

January 17, 2014

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According to recent reports, more and more Americans don’t take all of their vacation time. As a nation, many of us erroneously believe that not taking time off will pay off for us in career advancement—or at the very least in holding onto our jobs. Of course, some workers don’t take vacation because they feel they are indispensible, while others are motivated by dedication to their jobs and their organizations. 

The bad news is that it's actually counterproductive to work year-round without a break. Skipping vacations is more likely to result in jeopardizing a career than advancing it. The reason: burnout, which impairs creativity, productivity, and motivation and can even result in emotional and physical illness. The downside of not taking vacations includes:

Increased stress

Chronic stress can lead to heart disease, obesity, insomnia, and exhaustion—none of which will help anyone’s career prospects.

Decreased mental health

Studies have found that those who skipped vacation time were likely to become depressed, tense, and exhausted.

A decline in productivity

Working long hours day in and day out without a break can lead to steep productivity declines—and along with it, a chance for a raise and/or promotion. If productivity dips enough, you could even end up losing your job. 

The way to unleash your full potential and retain your enthusiasm for your job is to stop running from crisis to crisis, juggling priorities, and watching the clock—and to take time off. A one- or two-week vacation can help your career prospects by allowing you to:

Revamp relationships

A vacation is the perfect time to reconnect with loved ones. We’re all texting, emailing, and often ignoring each other as we go about our lives. A vacation with family or friends can revitalize our deep connections with each other. 

Reestablish a sense of purpose

Taking time to kick back can give you the distance you need to remember why you work as hard as you do during the rest of the year. Additionally, when we experience new places and people, we open ourselves up to new ways of seeing and thinking. 

Boost your health and well-being

Those who take vacation time report fewer sick days, better work-life balance, and feeling calmer and less overwhelmed when they’re back at work.

Some tips for a rejuvenating vacation:

  • Take at least a week—or two, if you can—because a long weekend is likely to barely scratch the surface.
  • Minimize the use of cell phones, laptops, etc.
  • If you must check-in, set a designated time when you will be available.
  • Let co-workers figure things out for themselves. In the process, they too will become more resilient, independent, and productive. 
  • Wrap up as many projects as you can before you leave so they’re not on your mind.

Taking a vacation is not a luxury—it’s a necessity. You’ll return to work with new energy, enthusiasm, and even a fresh idea or two for tackling problems. You might even discover that you enjoy your job again!


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