This is reprinted from the original A Week in the Life reprinted from July 2009.
Webster defines vacation as a respite or a time of respite from something or a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation. These are all nice and correct definitions. To me a vacation is a recharging of our internal batteries. If a good night’s sleep is compared to the recharging of a cell phone, a vacation is the jump start for a dead car battery. Attach those jumper cables and that dead battery will recharge and run well for a long time.
In our current economy people don’t take as many or for that matter any vacation. There’s too much fear about job loss etc. This is an understandable fear. However without that good jumpstart, work productivity will drag, enthusiasm for the job will not be there, burnout will occur. In that light, vacation is almost a no brainer.
A person has to define what a vacation means. Let’s go back to the definition. The first one is a respite. It doesn’t say a long tropical cruise to an exotic island, 2 weeks in Hawaii or month long European jaunt. It says respite as in lets take a break. The second definition a period spent away from. doesn’t specify how long or where or what that might entail. To me a vacation is a change in what I do. It means turning off the cell phone & computer. It means not reading any type of technical material (For me vacation reading= USA Today!). It means shutting down work of all kinds and not allowing work to enter my mind. When I am on vacation, I do not have a daily calendar, do not have a plan, and most of the time couldn’t tell you what day of the week it is. It’s the ultimate recharge!
I have worked with people over the years who will take their cell phone and/or laptop on vacation. It seems somewhat half assed to me. I’m going down the shore to enjoy the sand and sea, but I’m going to be in contact with work. Are they that indispensable? Is their name on the marquee? It’s almost like they couldn’t allow themselves to take that break, or timeout for fear of?
In my way of thinking, work is this thing that you do between vacations. When you return from a vacation, you work on planning the next one. This way you always have vacation on your mind. It’s on your calendar, it’s a goal to achieve. I’m working for the next 3 months and then I’m away. I once worked with a man who was going to Ireland. For the month prior to the trip, he brought in Irish music, pictures from previous trips to Ireland which he used as his screensaver, his itinerary for the trip. He was vacationing before he got there!!!
The ultimate recharger of our internal systems, vacation, is a healthy, useful and a necessary part of our lives. Please plan one.