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Vacation Avoidance Syndrome: Why Aren’t We Taking More Time Off?

August 16, 2011

On Saturday I will be departing for two full weeks of vacation, the first time in twenty five years of work that I have dared such an extended break.

My wife has been badmouthing the paltry one-week vacation for years, insisting that it barely allows enough time to begin winding down from the crushing pace of work. She makes it out to be downright barbaric. “Look at those Europeans!” she’ll say. “They take off the entire month of August – and that’s just the summer!”

But there is a perfectly good explanation why I have avoided the two-week vacation all these years: I am afraid that everyone at work will forget about me.

I am gripped by this nagging worry that once I am out of range for more than five days or so, I will inevitably be greeted upon my return with something like, “Heyyyy there, welcome back!

Now, who are you, again?”

As ridiculous as this may seem, it is a central fear among many managers these days – driven, no doubt, by the flaky condition of the economy, which creates the constant need to be integral, necessary, and at the center of things.

We’d like to believe we are indispensable, and short vacations help prop up that image.

Click here to finish reading this post over at The High Calling.

Image by Craig Allen. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2011 5:08 pm

    Hi Bradley,

    I read the entire article but prefer to comment here.

    There is a huge difference between Europe and US, not only vacation but retirement age also, seems to me that American workers especially executives have problems to retire and leave the business or academic world before they die or get sick.

    You mentioned corporate culture and I think this is key as well as perception. If the top management is showing the good example with the implementation of good practices and rules then people will follow.

    I attended a PINK meeting while living in Atlanta and the Norwegian-born Pernille Spiers-Lopez, president of IKEA North America made clear that she put people first and was not using her blackberry during vacation and weekends.

    See more of her interview about work-life balance here:

    People should also be careful to think that the grass is greener on the other side. In Europe too peer pressure is high for executives and if by law people get 6 or 8 weeks vacation you won’t see many global managers taking them and most are 24/7 available for conference calls or checking emails every day. Recently due to the recession people in Europe have been working to death, literally, the level of suicides among managers has been unusually high especially in France at the French Telecom company for example.

  2. August 30, 2011 12:23 pm

    I am laughing at the ‘afraid people will forget me at work’…too funny!

    I agree with the wife, although I am spoiled to a hubby who gets four weeks, and we have been taking advantage. Making memories with the son in Europe has been the best part.

    Something about relaxing with the spouse outside of the normal environment says a lot for good healthy relationships, and spiritual nourishment.

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