Vacations are an endangered species, at least for the majority in the business world. And they are borderline extinct for sole proprietors and small business owners. Here are the Top 5 reasons why people don’t take vacations anymore and afterwards, some actionable suggestions on how you can change that in your own world.
- Too Busy
In our rapid information, constant bombardment, 21st Century world, we NEVER stop working. That means we don’t take vacations and even when we do, we still work! If you’re in the majority who are constantly checking email, texts and voicemails, you are more than likely in the category of not taking a vacation. You’re simply too busy, and rightfully so. This is the #1 reason why people aren’t taking vacations like they used to. In fact, according to a recent Forbes survey, only 25% of Americans took all their paid vacation days last year and 61% said they continue to work while on vacation.
- Scared Everything Will Fall Apart
This goes hand in hand on #1. You’re too busy. You don’t have enough time in your day to get it all done, let alone take time off. If you did take a vacation, it would be a waste of time and money because you would find yourself working for the better part of you trip. So, instead, the FEAR of having everything fall apart prevents you not just from enjoying time off, taking a relaxing vacation, but even from having a fulfilling regular work life.
- Reactive not Proactive
Want to know the top trait of the minority of business owners and executives who DO take vacations? They are proactive, rather than reactive. They have a handle not only on their own workday but anyone else who works for them. They have bandwidth. They’ve learned that there “is always more to do” and instead, have learned the art of boundaries and priorities. By doing that, they have moved from a reactive life to a proactive one. instead of being a “Fireman” who has to constantly put out fires, they are relaxed and have have time not just for vacations, but life.
- Always Working Even On Vacation
As Forbes found in their recent study, 61% of people work on their vacation. But the entire objective of a vacation and its true benefit is to NOT work. Vacations are vital not just to your health and stress level, but your business life. It allows your mind to slow down, get out of work mode and have fun. And, life is supposed to be fun! But you will only stop working or think you need to work on vacation when you learn boundaries, priorities and having a workday schedule. Those skills will move you out of reactive and into becoming a proactive owner or manager.
- Afraid You’ll Be Caught as a Fraud
This is the deepest FEAR of many workers and one of the hidden causes for people to not take vacations. These are the people who might actually do good work and may even have time management handled, but they feel that if they take a vacation, then others will learn they are a fraud. In fact, they fear their boss will discover that they really “aren’t” that good. Or, a co-worker or peer will take their job. This fear comes down to self confidence and whenever I see someone who won’t take vacation because of this fear, I know they really feel like a fraud in their current role or position. Or, they’re hiding something. But typically, that’s not the case. The fear is more like a fog, not truly real.
Vacations are vital. You want to take them for your health, your stress level, and your business life. And, you need to have fun in your life. Not taking vacations is a sure sign of deeper issues that if you don’t address, will grow.
Here are a few Actionable Suggestions that can bring you immediate results.
- Define what constitutes a successful day for you. That could be specific tasks, a general goal or something truly defined. Regardless, this will be your measuring stick to learn to clock out. This will also provide you a benchmark to fulfillment. Much of work life comes down to the “feeling” of fulfillment or not. When tasks appear to “hang over our heads”, we don’t feel fulfilled, even if we accomplished many things that day. Having set and written down criteria for a successful day will alleviate this issue.
- Pick a Preferred Communication Method. Choose phone, voicemail, text or social media. Then, STOP using the others for 30 days. If that is too much to ask, try 1 week. Or, even 1 day.
- Set Boundaries on your preferred communication method. Change your voicemail or email response telling them you’re only available between a set period of time. And, you’ll get back to them within another defined period of time (I like 24 or 48 hours for a response.) Learn to set the expectation of how quickly you’ll respond.For one week, each morning read over your To Do List and mark if the Task MUST be done that day. Each day that week, ONLY perform the Tasks you marked. See how the week turned out. Where you more or less productive? Avoid doing anything else outside of the Tasks you’ve classified as critical.
- Pick an Ending Time for the Day and STOP working immediately when the clock hits that time. You could pick 5, 6 or 7pm. The key isn’t the time you pick but the discipline to stop the minute the clock strikes that time. Try this for 1 week.
- For one week, do not take an unscheduled call or meeting. Make everyone, from your Board to your Boss to your subordinates schedule in advance. Test it out for one week and see how much more productive you were. Just be sure to stick to this policy for the entire week.
These are all small actionable items but have a “cumulative” affect on your time and business life. Give it and try and let me know how you’re doing.