“I do not really like vacations. I much prefer an occasional day off when I do not feel like working. When I am confronted with a whole week in which I have nothing to do but enjoy myself I do not know where to begin. To me, enjoyment comes fleetingly and unheralded; I cannot determinedly enjoy myself for a whole week at a time.” -Robertson Davies
Sitting on a beautiful, white beach. Not a another human in sight for miles. Just you on a chair, staring at the water. And your only company is your thoughts. Sounds amazing right? To some, yes. To others that sounds fictional and possibly like this person may be in trouble because they are on some Lost type/parallel universe (was it purgatory in the end? I was so confused) that doesn’t exist. In this day of ever-connectedness, it is actually quite possible to never really take a vacation. But for some people, it seems that they are actually incapable of not taking a vacation.
According to a Monster.com survey, only 27% of employees said that they’re able to completely shut off thoughts about work while on vacation and according to an Expedia.com survey of 1,530 people, 30% say they have trouble coping with work stress while they’re away.
Ron Ashkenas, author and managing partner of Schaffer Consulting, supports the school of thought that maybe we should get over the fact that there is really no such thing as a vacation anymore. Ashkenas says maybe we need to accept the fact that the sharp demarcation between work and home is a thing of the past, and that the new normal is a life that integrates home and work more seamlessly. Instead of work-life balance he thinks we should all focus on work-life “integration.” That way of thinking may make the following people who haven’t taken a vacation in years feel better.
Edward E. Longley, CEO and Founder of The Hollingsworth Group, told The Grindstone:
“I am in the real estate business and have not really taken a vacation in four years. I have been busy building my real estate practice. I have to be at the beck and call of my clients or stand the chance of losing them. I work in a very competitive filed so I need be available 24/7. I pretty much work seven days a week, 365 days a year. And with laptops, WiFi, and iPhones, tablets etc., I can work even if I am away, on the plane, in car, waiting on line and so forth. I am not complaining because I run my own show and can do what I wan to a certain degree. I have occasionally done some unorthodox things to keep working and avoid taking vacations.”
Mike Astringer, Founder and CEO of Human Capital Consultants, Inc., told The Grindstone:
“I am someone who never took a vacation or even any real time off (including weekends) for years. HCC is my second startup and I was a single parent for many years before marrying my second wife. I worked seven days per week around taking care of my two small children and never took time off. After getting remarried my wife’s biggest complaint was that I never took time off and we never took vacations.
Then I got a serious illness three years ago. I think that being sick really changed my mind set. I still work 70+ hours per week but have found time for recreation around my work. I compromised with my wife and we now take several vacations per year. I don’t totally take those days off from work. We typically will travel from Wednesday through Monday. I work from 5:00 AM to noon on the week days we are away and spend time with my wife vacationing after noon. I totally take weekends off when we are traveling. I also bought a boat that we spend weekend on. Typically I wake up at 4:00 or 5:00 AM on weekend when we are on the boat and work until my wife wakes up. This past summer I bought a motorcycle that I enjoy a few hours a day on the weekends and a few evenings during the week. That is my only total unplug time. I guess you can say that I still don’t take “real” vacations but I do have a better work/life/family balance.”
Tara Tyler is a mom who just started a company. She told The Grindstone:
“I absolutely love my job and the company, but that is just the problem. I love it so much that I feel guilty taking a break from it. We also just launched about six weeks ago, so as the only full time marketing person, you can imagine how hard it is to take some time off. I also do freelance voiceover work in addition to my full-time job. My husband works 12 hour shifts as a 911 dispatcher.
My husband and I have not had a real vacation since our honeymoon in Vegas over five years ago. It also does not help that we live about 1,100 miles away from our family (mine and my husband’s) so when we do get to take time off from our jobs, we feel obligated to go visit family, which is definitely NOT a vacation!! Some days I work non-stop, meaning that even when I am cooking dinner, taking a shower, or driving, my brain is still “at work.” I have to constantly remind myself to stop and focus on other things or I am going to get burned out. I still feel very passionate about what I do and the company, but I have experienced symptoms of exhaustion, stress, and dehydration. I think we are long overdue for a true vacation.”