A piece of unsolicited advice: always take your vacation time.
I’m taking a vacation day tomorrow for no reason other than I simply want a day off. A mental health day, if you will. As I told people I was off tomorrow, I got asked more than once where I was going. The answer of course is nowhere. This got me thinking about work-life balance.
Like you’d expect of a midwesterner, I have a pretty strong work ethic. My mom and my dad are easily two of the hardest working people I know. Growing up, my mom worked her ass off to provide for all of us kids as a single mom. She started off in an entry-level position without a college degree and worked her way to upper level management. I deeply admire my mom, so maybe that’s why I find laziness to be a highly unattractive quality. I can’t stand it. Instead, I choose to surround myself with ultra-motivated, go-getter types because simply put, they usually have better energy.
As much as I believe in hard work and putting in the time, I feel like we’ve taken it a bit too far in the workplace. We live in a culture that praises working way too many hours and frowns upon taking time for yourself. Stay at the office until 8pm and you’ll likely receive approval from the higher-ups instead of encouragement to go home.
It’s not uncommon to feel guilty over taking a sick day either. Seriously though, why on earth should we ever feel guilty over being ill? As if we can control it. Personally, I sometimes feel guilty about taking a vacation. I know it’s ridiculous but that’s the world we live in. My boss happens to be amazing and she encourages us to take our time off but it’s more of a cultural thing. We never want to appear like the weakest link.
Some places are getting much better and starting to offer unlimited paid time off. I love this trend!
I think I am pretty awesome at my job but I am also a HUGE proponent of work-life balance. I believe when we’re on vacation we should be off our work e-mail and removed from our 9-5 lives. This is essential to our health and happiness. If you can never unplug, what the hell is the point of paid time off? If more of us would stick to this rule of thumb, maybe we’d all feel less guilty unplugging.
Don’t even get me started on maternity leave in the United States. I could go on for days about what a messed up system we have for new moms and babies. (Read The Nordic Theory of Everything for more on this topic.) We’re expected to give birth, stay home to recover physically, and then immediately return to the workplace. We’re forced to pump our lives away when we could very well be at home nursing our babies and bonding for a few months longer. The office would get on just fine without us.
I try my best to encourage my colleagues to unplug when they’re on vacation and remind them to take time off. We’ve all earned it. Maybe you’re thinking not everyone can afford to vacation in the south of France. I hear you, sister. International trips are on hold for me at the moment. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use our vacation time. Take it! Use it to go to the beach or the freaking museum if you must. Just use your hard-earned paid time off and enjoy it – without an ounce of guilt.
When someone takes a week off to soak up some Vitamin D and read a trashy chick lit book, we should say “good for you!” instead of a passive aggressive “must be nice.” All I’m saying is, I don’t want to die having any PTO in the bank (that is unless I already had some kick ass travel already booked).
Tomorrow, I’m taking my friend Sheri’s spin class in the morning, going to a doctor I don’t usually have time for, and then soaking up some sunshine at the beach while I read. I have a 3 day weekend of pure relaxation (and running) ahead – no flights or hotels required. 🙂
Wow – who knew I’d be able to ramble on and on for this long about vacation time? I wonder what weirdness I’ll decide to write about next.