For me, the year-end holidays are a time to celebrate and reflect.
Celebrate professional and personal successes: what you did get done, not what you didn’t; progress, not perfection (still my favorite insights from the work+life fit naturals I studied when writing Tweak It).
And reflect on some of the most important lessons learned, one of which was the need for a true, meaningful, restorative break from work.
As I shared earlier this year when I returned from visiting our daughter who was studying in the U.K., “after (working) two nonstop years, I was ready for a vacation and took two weeks off.” It was, “Just what my heart and soul needed and was the first time I’d taken such a long, mostly work-free break since I’d worked for a bank in the early 1990s.”
Sadly, I am not alone in not taking regular vacations, and I work for myself! The U.S. ranks as one of the worst countries for offering paid vacation days and paid leave. And, even before the pandemic completely erased the boundaries between work and life, Americans were leaving a record number of vacation days unused.
During the past few years, various studies found that between nearly a third and more than half of us didn’t use all our vacation time. At the end of 2021, employees on average had 9.5 unused vacation days left, according to Qualtrics. I used to be one of those people.
As I wrote following my vacation, “I’d forgotten how it takes a full week to decompress which then allows you to really relax and enjoy your time away the second week. I will do my best not to forget again and make two-week breaks a priority every year, not just for me but for our entire team.”
Time off is of value not just to the individual, but to colleagues and the organization as well. I came back from that vacation chomping at the bit to dive back into the work I love, and it felt great.
I’ve written previously about how employers can Unlock the Strategic Power of Vacation.
Among my tips:
- Position vacation/PTO as a form of work flexibility an employee can actively use to fit their work and life together.
- Regularly prompt employees to plan and coordinate their vacation/PTO. I suggest sending a reminder quarterly.
- Celebrate vacations and show that your organization values time off and meaningful breaks, seeing them as both a gain for the employee and the organization.
So I and everyone who is part of the FSG family will walk our talk this holiday season. From Friday, December 23rd until Monday, January, 2nd, we will be closed to celebrate, reflect…rest, and restore.
And in the new year, whether it’s a vacation with travel or just a few hours outside, “Deliberate breaks. Rest. Changes in perspective. All need to be a part of our work+life fit.” Hopefully, it will be part of yours as well.