Most of us equate summertime with taking a vacation. But many of us don’t take one. In fact, in a survey just taken by the U.S. Travel Association, 4 out of 10 Americans are not going to take all of their vacation days.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nine million workers took a vacation in 1976, and in 2014 only about 7 million did. This is even worse when you consider the population has increased by over 50 million since then. Americans on average leave 9.2 vacation days unused!
No wonder we are all stressed out.
I don’t know this for a fact, but my guess is that in the nonprofit world it’s even worse. When you add the “my organization will suffer” and the “I’m not doing enough” assumptions that many nonprofit workers carry with them, it’s not a pretty situation.
Are you taking a vacation this summer? I hope so, and I hope you take a long one. As I said earlier in this series, your job as an MGO is extremely tough on you mentally, emotionally and I would say spiritually as well. Without a prolonged break, you just can’t function at peak performance. Yet you think that if you just keep working, you’ll get “caught up.”
In that same survey from the U.S. Travel Association, the number one reason people don’t take a vacation is that they don’t want to come back to what is waiting for them at work.
I can personally attest to why taking a vacation is so important to your health. I was never a good vacation-taker. I would never go anywhere for more than a week. There was always just too much to do. However, several years ago the company I used to work for offered a three-week paid sabbatical after 10 years of service. I qualified, and I finally took it. It was the best thing I could ever have done.
I actually disconnected the e-mail on my phone and took some personal and family time away. It took me almost a week to feel like I was unwinding. Then the next two weeks were absolute bliss. My brain slowed down. Physically, I felt like my whole body just relaxed; I felt happier. I stopped worrying about everything and started living in the moment. When I eventually had to go back to work, things that seemed so important or urgent suddenly were not. It was amazing. I had a whole new perspective on my work.
You too can experience this. All you have to do is make it a priority for yourself. And I would strongly recommend you take at least two weeks off. Even if you don’t go anywhere, taking that amount of time off from your work will benefit you greatly.
Writer Herb Scribner from Moneywise compiled 7 benefits for taking a vacation. Take these seriously and then plan that time off:
- Better physical health — Scientists are saying that time off helps your heart by reducing your stress.
- More productivity — We are not made to be productive continuously. Taking a break restores our balance.
- Closer family relationships — Shared family memories become ties that bond families together.
- Newer perspectives — This is exactly what happened to me when I went on my long vacation. “Getting away from it all” helps give you a clearer picture of reality by stepping away from it.
- Increased mental power — Our brains have to take time off. Just think about how “off” you feel when you don’t get enough sleep. This is slowly happening to you when you don’t give your brain the extended rest that a vacation can provide.
- Lower chance of burnout — Your job is too stressful not to take a break. Studies show that there is less burnout from workers who take more vacation time. This is why companies are now making people take their vacations.
- Improved mental health — Again, studies show that taking time off reduces stress, which improves your overall mental health.
So if you needed any more reasons for taking a vacation, those seven should put you over the top. Taking a vacation this summer is highly important to your success as a major gift officer. Take a break, and come back refreshed and ready to go!
Series details – Six Actions for Summer Impact that will Lead to Year-End Success