by Kailee Goold
It was my first real job out of college—I was a legal assistant at a law firm in Cleveland, Ohio. A few months after I started, my stepmom was traveling to California on business and I wanted to join her. But asking for vacation so soon was not the way I envisioned my career starting. As I’m sure others can relate, I was terrified of what my co-workers and boss would think about me if I requested the time off so soon after starting. Would they think I wasn’t committed or even worse, a bad employee?
I called my dad to discuss the pros and cons. I prepared myself for a lengthy discussion of how to resolve this dilemma. I provided the facts for my dad and was ready to jump into some serious analysis. To my surprise, my dad stopped me and said words I will never forget: “You are not that important. Just go.”
Although I was slightly shocked when I first heard these words, I have carried them into my professional years. I was granted the time off and had a blast with my family in California. And I have scheduled time off in each of my jobs ever since.
It is all too common for professionals today to never take time off or participate in activities they love because of work or the fear of how their co-workers will perceive them. Employees often feel they are letting down their boss, peers, clients—you name it. Each of us has created an internal laundry list of excuses as to why we cannot give ourselves a break.
That’s why I pass along the advice I received from my dad years ago: you are not that important. And that is great news! While it may not always feel like it, your job is not that important (even if you own the company). The world, family, and business will be okay in your absence. You owe it to yourself to take some time off. If you do, you will be a better employee, owner, friend, or spouse.
I am so grateful to have learned this lesson early and remind myself of it often. I am sure some people may think I am less of an employee for doing so—but these few people are not worth sitting in my office 365 days a year.
Don’t get me wrong, it is all about balance. I have to bust my butt to make sure everything is in order before I take off to my next destination. I have had to prove to my co-workers and clients that I am responsible enough to take a vacation and still be an excellent attorney. And playing catch-up at work is not always the most fun. But for me, being in an exotic location with no internet and recharging my own battery is totally worth it.
Find out what is holding you back from doing what you really want to do. Then rid yourself of that guilt. The benefits of a vacation far outweigh the (often only perceived) costs. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Plenty of research supports this:
- Washington Post – Latest research: Why everyone should take a vacation
- USA Today – What Are the Benefits of Taking a Vacation?
- CNN –Take your vacation, or die?
- Forbes —Take A Vacation: It’s Good For Productivity And The Economy, According To A New Study
So relish in the fact that you are not as important as you think. Take vacation. More importantly, be at peace and confident in your decision and enjoy your time off—even if you don’t go anywhere. (Feel free to send me pictures!).