I included in the weekly a post from Mike, writing for One Mile at a Time, about vacation time in the US. Folks commented on that post, that it was “off topic,” I would argue quite the opposite. Lucky and his team, as well as many of us in the mile and point blogosphere, talk so much about making dreams realities (e.g. aspirational award flights to places like Bali, the Maldives, etc.), that to ignore the harsh realities of limited time off, seems like a mistake. Further to that points, I’ve had numerous conversations over the past few days with folks who either:
- Don’t get enough time off
- Don’t feel they can take time off
- Feel that the world will stop rotating on its axis, if they were to go on vacation.
I can’t fix any of these problems, but, it occurs to me that some of these are very real concerns, and worth taking the time to offer what could be a controversial post. Before I start, I just want to say – I never sit down to write with the intent of offending folks. But to the same point, I think folks appreciate candid opinions. Here’s my offering:
Folks who don’t get enough time off
This I think is a huge issue, especially in the United States. My first full time (read: non-seasonal) job gave me a whopping 5 days of vacation a year. 5 whole days! It rubbed me the wrong way, even back then, and the only reason I had that job, was because I was in grad school. I quickly learned, after I finished my MBA, that you have to negotiate, and before you can negotiate, you have to figure out your priorities. I’ve actually turned jobs down, because I didn’t feel the work/life balance was in line with my goals. I realize that not every one can do this, but I would encourage anyone who can, consider your priorities, and if vacation time is one of them, and the offer is not enough, share, in a non-threatening way, that you were “hoping for a little more.” That is advice that one of my mentors shared with me ages ago, and it has never failed. It goes back to the idea – if you don’t ask, you don’t know.
Folks who don’t feel they can take time off
This kind’ve falls into two types of folks (I think): (1) Folks who the boss doesn’t want to let take off, and (2) Folks who feel they can’t delegate. I can’t help the first, but I can offer, from my experience, at least, that if you really want to, you can find the right talent, and mentor them to the point where you can delegate. You might not be able to do this overnight, but, the key is building trust and communication.
Folks who feel that the world will stop rotating on its axis, if they were to go on vacation
This one is pretty hard. I dare say there is no one that should fall into this position (reference previous point). Even the President of the United States takes a 2 week vacation around Christmas. First: The world will not stop, if it does, send me the bill. If you’ve got a small business, then yes, you need to lay the groundwork to be able to take vacation. I know many small business owners who still make the time to go on vacation. I totally get it, you’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into an amazing business, it is hard to break away for a week on the beach, in the woods, or on the ski slopes. But hopefully once you do lay the foundation, you’ll be able to find a balance.
Paid time off is truly key. Vacations are also important, not just because I write about miles and points, but rather, because work/life balance matters. Local to me, Ocean City Maryland talks about a different problem, wasting days off. I’m not sure I’d agree that a day off is “wasted,” but the commercial is pretty funny.
And to finish off – I thought I’d share a photo of Indy (#IndyDog), imitating me, whenever my wife says “hey, wanna fly somewhere?”