Want to Be More Successful? Take a Vacation

A clearer mind, a rested body, and a more positive attitude translates to more productivity and, yes, success.

The concept of vacation, as we know it, is a relatively recent one.  Only since the Industrial Revolution in the 19thcentury took people from their rural lives and into factories in overpopulated urban centers did work and play begin to stake out totally separate territories.  Prior to that, only the very wealthy were able to pack up the household in Rome and move to their villa on the Mediterranean for some summer fun or put together a camel caravan to visit friends and play tourist on the Nile.  The rich could do this, of course, because they had people to take care of business back home.  The non-wealthy stayed home all year long working from dawn to dusk with only brief periods of respite from their toil.

Today, vacation time is an integral part of what makes a job attractive.  The more days off that are built into your employment package the more envious your friends are.  Vacations are, in fact, considered by full-time employees to be a legal right.  It’s not.  The U.S. is the only developed country that does not legally mandate vacation time, and so while most employers understand the importance of offering vacation time to employees they are not legally bound to do so.

Perhaps it is this lack of a federal policy about vacations that makes us so ambivalent as a nation about taking time off.  The culture of workaholism we live in is the cause of stress, discontent and even health problems on a large scale, but many people think that by not taking vacation days and working more and harder, they are putting themselves on the straight, unencumbered path to success.

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) tells us different: “Statistically, taking more vacation results in greater success at work as well as lower stress and more happiness at work and home.”  Still, we resist taking time off, thinking that foregoing vacations makes us more virtuous and committed as workers.

Thing is, vacations are essential to avoid burn-out, to recharge batteries, to explore sights and sounds, to catch up on sleep and mindless tv, and to give your body a rest from the stress and grind of the 9-5.  By not taking allotted vacation days, by the way, we’re basically working for free—giving up billions of dollars each year in salary and benefits we’re entitled to.

And does not taking time off make you more successful?  A 2016 study showed that people who took more vacation time actually had a more than 60% chance of receiving a raise or a bonus.  As counterintuitive as that sounds, it makes perfect sense.  Coming back from a good vacation makes you feel refreshed and ready to take on the world.  A clearer mind, a rested body, and a more positive attitude translates to more productivity and, yes, success.

With that in mind, I’m off on my vacation!

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