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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Vacations Revisited


I also wrote in August about the challenges of vacationing in a wheelchair.

Now that Fall is here, I thought I would write again since people will soon start thinking about winter vacations and next year's time off.  In advertising, as in many businesses, planning for the future is difficult because it is hard to anticipate what is coming next week, no less next year.  One thing is for sure, there is never a good time to take an vacation; nevertheless, taking time off is essential.

What immediately comes to mind is one of the responses which I received a while ago when I wrote about taking a vacation.  This response had a profound effect on me and I have been thinking about it ever since.  Here it is, verbatim:

“Only once in my 30 year career have I taken [one] 2 week vacation,
and that was in 1991. I have never felt so refreshed, relaxed, or
recharged as after that trip. In today's environment, everything
moves so fast that trying to take 2 weeks at a time could
unfortunately be career suicide. I wish we had the same attitude
as the Europeans.”

If taking two weeks off (more than twenty years prior) felt so good, why would someone deny themselves vacation time again? Life is too short. There has been so much research conducted on how productive people become after taking a vacation.  Truth is that rather than granting paid vacation, companies should actually mandate it.
It is sad to me that a person felt that he or she could not take a vacation because of the pressures of their job. The saddest part is that it is all in their head.  The nature of the business is that something often comes up, making vacation time off inconvenient, but if the business is properly staffed the gap can easily be filled for a couple of weeks. And today, with smart phones and tablets, there is very little that con't be handled from afar.  In fact, I really doubt that senior managers really give a damn whether vacations are taken or not; time off is always an issue.  So what? Frankly, I have never heard about a person being fired for taking their entitled vacation.  The attitude of the writer above comes from his/her insecurity.

The irony of all of this is that there are few ad agency CEO's, presidents or ECD's who do not take time off.

I feel so sorry for people who work because they are afraid not to. As I said, life is just too short.  And spending time renewing one’s self (and their significant others) is so beneficial and wonderful that anyone who denies themselves a break is a fool.

On another post about time off, someone commented that vacations were not worth it because he/she had to constantly check their phone to answer business emails and texts and therefore there was no point to time off. Give me a break.  I always work while I am away, as do most senior executives (In the early days of cell phones, I rented a satellite phone, so I could return calls and, negotiate, if necessary.)  Working while on vacation, comes with the territory if you are an executive.  In fact, I am always surprised when I hear a voice mail that a senior person will not be returning calls or answering other communications while away; to me, it is a derriliction of responsibility .  It certainly doesn’t bother me to answer emails, calls or texts, while I am away, if they are timely and important to my business; if not, my voice mail (and auto-response) says I will communicate when I return.  It takes a few minutes a couple of times a day.  So what?  It doesn’t interfere with my time off and certainly doesn’t affect my relaxation.  I simply don’t allow those interruptions to hinder my mood or enjoyment.

The person who wrote that simply used this as an excuse to continue working rather than taking care of themselves.  It is a terrible rationalization.  And it actually makes me, as a recruiter, question their ability to handle responsibility.

It actually takes a full week to unwind and relax. The second week off then becomes pure bliss, which is why two consecutive weeks is better than long weekends or a week here and a week there. 

Everyone owes it to themselves and their family to take time off to refresh and renew.  I beg my readers to plan next year's vacation now and to actually take it when the time comes. 

1 comment:

  1. I once had an amazing boss (and “rabbi”) named Ken Robbins. He was the CEO of SSC&B:Lintas/NY at the time (1984). Ken noticed that I hadn’t taken vacation in two years and wanted to know why. Reminded me that I had a wife and two little children, and I told him that things were just too busy. To which he said. “Who do you think you are? I’m your CEO and I take my family vacation every year.”

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