Do your friends, co-workers, and family a favor and be sure to use all of your vacation days from work this year. Too often we think work is too important and we shorten a vacation or meet our family halfway through the week so we don't have to take a full week off.
Or worse yet, something comes up at the last minute and we decide to cancel the vacation all together. If you aren't using your vacation days it is only a matter of time until you burn out of your job and begin to feel unappreciated and like you work too hard (which you do!). The reality is, when you take a week or two off to unwind and relax, you come back to work a better employee, re-charged and ready to go.
Vacation will give you time away from the office to regain some perspective. Are there other changes you need to make in your life? Has it been too long since your last vacation? Should you have taken this one sooner? Or perhaps there is a big issue or project going on at work. Sometimes it is only when we step away for a moment that we are actually able to see the solution. Vacation will give you time to re-connect with your family and friends, which will fill you with more energy when you do get back to work.
Even if you are physically taking vacation days, be sure to also take them mentally and emotionally. When you take vacation with your family make an effort to leave all work behind. Do not bring your blackberry. Do not bring the laptop. Do not check your email at the hotel's business center. Unplug for the length of your vacation. Instead put that energy and attention into those you are traveling with. You don't even have to go away for vacation, just be home and be with your loved ones. Just be sure to check out from work completely.
If vacation days are difficult to come by in your line of work then make every effort to make each weekend or day off a vacation in some way. Again, don't check your email and turn off your phone for a day. Find something you like to do that is totally unrelated to work: read a good book, play a game with your kids, do a crossword puzzle, bake cookies just for fun. If you are only able to get one day off from work a week; then use that one day as a vacation day all on it's own. Everyone needs downtime.
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