Windows Down, Heading Out of Town

In about two hours, we will be packed up and heading out. I wish like heck I was writing to tell you I was on my way to some far-off destination to enjoy an all-inclusive experience. That is not the case this week. Our family, for many reasons, had to post-pone all of our vacation plans for this summer until July. Last-minute plans will have to suffice. This was definitely not going to be the year we all flew off for some once-in-a-lifetime adventure. But, it's a trip nonetheless, and we are all looking forward to it.

According to research from the U.S. Travel Association, 768 million vacation days went unused in 2018, totaling around $65.5 billion in lost benefits to employees.

Should we all sit with that statistic for a minute?

I'm 100% guilty of this! And for many reasons over the years with different companies, roles, and life stages.

What about you?!

Some of us (maybe many of us) are in roles where it's easy to justify that we always have to be available, even on vacation. And, of course, technology and smartphones encourage the constant tether. This is where the research gets really interesting. One could argue that we Americans sabotage ourselves by actually thinking we are so valuable we are irreplaceable, and the world might actually stop spinning if we cannot be reached every day, all day.

I give an incredible amount of thanks to a leader within my business for helping me change my outlook here. It's been a hard 180° from how I was raised.

But, I'm not going off the grid or anything crazy this week. Nothing like the week I turned off my phone back in 2018. I'm only taking a few days off. My out of office message is on and clearly states how to contact someone else in my absence. But, I have already told two different people to text me if anything urgent comes up. And, I've added a few meetings to my Monday morning, even though I've blocked that day off too.

I enjoy work. I'm passionate about sales development. I truly and throughly enjoy helping others thrive. All of you who know me personally know this to be true. It's really hard to take a few days off. For all of the reasons we read about, and simply because I like to work. But, the data definitely supports downtime. And most of us would be better off to heed the advice from the experts on this topic.

Even before 2020, the data around burnout was clear. Now, even more so. In 2021, 89% of 1,000 U.S. workers surveyed by Visier said they had experienced occupational burnout. While more planned to take vacations last year, 61% of 620 professionals surveyed by Korn Ferry said they usually check in with work at least once a day while on vacation. Separately, the Korn Ferry survey results showed that taking a vacation has a positive impact on individuals' job performance; in fact 80% of respondents said they have had a breakout work idea while relaxing on vacation.

I've personally experienced this phenomenon of a breakthrough work idea on vacation that Korn Ferry reports. It's incredible when it happens! But, I will try to resist the urge to put too many expectations on myself these next few days, and just enjoy the time with our family. Whatever happens will happen.

A few weeks ago, I posted a piece about hitting the reset button. The comments and texts and discussions since the post confirm that you are feeling it too. Feeling something that for some of us might be inexplainable, and for others, might be easy to describe but hard to talk about. I know a few days off now, and again in August, will help me personally with this journey to keep moving forward.

I would like to reflect quite a bit more on vacation days, burnout, and American work culture, but this is a trip, not a vacation. And this mama bear still has lots to do before we can pull out of the driveway. If you aren't sure of the difference between a vacation and a trip, read M. Blazoned's article on the subject. If you are the primary caregiver in your family, I hope you laugh out loud like I have each time I've read this piece.

Time to put "Vacation" by The Go-Go's on repeat. And turn the volume up!