I have a least favorite quote. It is some version of this: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
The notion is so overused that it provokes in me a physical reaction. Sometimes it is an eye-roll. At other points, muscle tension ensues. How is that possible? It is just a quote.
Perhaps convincing people that feeling stress at work is a referendum on their job choice rubs me the wrong way. Surprisingly, there is no definitive agreement on the quote’s origins. There are websites devoted to these things. Here is one of them. It is someone’s job to research quotes. Do the quote-researchers of the world ever “have to work a day in their life?” If so, is it because they did not choose a job they loved?
Vacation has different meanings depending upon your culture. Socioeconomic status also plays an important role. Some countries use the term “holiday” to denote extra time off. In the United States, we are notorious for our lack of paid time off (PTO). It is even worse for those who work hourly and must decide to choose between money and a well-deserved break. The stats below are for full-time employees who have worked for a year with their current employer. The statistics do not include part-time, hourly employees who often are not even afforded the “luxury” of public holidays.
Author’s Note: The links in this article are not affiliate links and do not endorse any businesses, publications, or authors.
The Bright Side
On a positive note, there are pockets of hope. Some employers are providing relief to their workers. Here are a few links if you are hoping to hit the Holy Grail of unlimited PTO:
- 14 Awesome Companies With Unlimited Vacation Time
- 9 Companies That Offer Unlimited Vacation Days
- LinkedIn, Netflix, and 9 Other Companies With Unlimited Vacation Time
- More Companies Are Offering Paid Vacation. Should You?
Resisting my innate desire to be political, it should be noted that many cities and states struggle to guarantee workers paid sick leave, let alone paid vacation. The idea that people who get sick should not have to choose between work and recovering from illness is often considered overly liberal. This in the United States, the richest country in the world! After all, businesses need to make a profit. (Oops. That was political.)
How To Make Vacation Last
Regardless of whether or not we are fortunate enough to have unlimited days off, a plurality of us will need to work at some point in our lives. Many people even continue to do so in some form during retirement.
Writing during the last hours of a two-week vacation, this post is as much for my benefit as for yours. A firm believer in community, I encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Maybe, working together, we can help one another enjoy our lives even more!
With vacation from work not even in the rear-view mirror, some important realizations have come to the fore.
Vacation In Perspective
- Some vacations are life-changing. These are the ones we live for, even if we chose the right career. Whether visiting an exotic location or something less grand, how we enjoy vacation time is personal and individual. The Internet ideates travel and who knows if the Internet idealists are being honest in their posts and recollections. I wrote a post about that HERE. Regardless of what perfect means to you, there are very few life experiences better than that perfect vacation.
- Vacations can be debacles. We have all experienced this. Even when I did not have the finances to travel, a day off or two that I had hyped in my mind could be easily derailed. Bad weather, poor choice of travel companions, financial stress, and other factors can turn a dream into a nightmare. Or at the very least, not as enjoyable as hoped. Read about my somewhat failed trip to Brussels in this post. It was fantastic compared to some of my worst vacations.
- Vacations include boredom. In my opinion, being bored is underrated. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that without boredom we stifle creativity. Just last week, I made an executive decision to forgo a few hours at a well-known beach to go for a ride to see a lighthouse. When we arrived, it was quiet, picturesque, and relaxing. Strolling along the water, we climbed on some easy-to-traverse rocks for a better view. It was simple family time together. When we met back up with our travel companions, their children raved about the carousel at the beach and how much fun they had at the beach. What child wouldn’t? To my delight, our eight-year old daughter excitedly exclaimed, “We climbed rocks!”
- Vacation is mostly about mindset. Mindset is always important in our daily lives. Having been part of the education world my whole career, the study of growth mindset is one of many trends. It is a good one as far as educational trends go, but I fear that we will misuse it. However, I will take that risk.
- We mimic “real life” during our vacations. This one is big. As much as we enjoy new experiences on vacation, a large percentage of our time is spent doing the same activities and tasks done while working. Meals, cleaning, self-care, exercise, reading books or online articles, socializing with friends, and even sleeping. The main difference is that we are on vacation. I want my vacation mindset to last!
Help Me Create An Endless Vacation
Below is a list of strategies and ideas, in no particular order, that I hope will help make my vacation mindset endless. Again, please leave comments below or on social media. Let’s make this a living list that we can refer to in our darkest hours at work, even if we DID choose a job we love!
- Relive your best vacation moments with friends and family.
- Plan small getaways, even if just a day-trip or a local walk. Research shows that looking forward to vacation is as important as the actual vacation itself!
- Enjoy your meals (even lunches!) as you did while you were away from work.
- Try not to take work home with you. By working more efficiently, you may be able to cut down on unfinished projects that require attention at home. Maybe some days it will seem like a micro-vacation when your work day is over.
- Do not check email after work, if your job allows for that. It is actually bad for your health.
- Do not send emails after work hours if you are in a leadership position. You have the ability to enhance your employees health and productivity. Even if odd hours are the only time you have to write the emails, save them as drafts and send them during work hours or use a scheduler to send them.
- Go for short walks during your work day, even if they are inside. Physical activity can help unburden your mind. Getting outside into nature is a bonus!
- Bring vacation to your workplace. Display vacation photos or use them as backgrounds on your computer and phones. If you work outdoors or in different locations, try something different on your way to work. Maybe listen to a vacation podcast or music from your favorite destination or band.
- Try positive daily affirmations. This idea seemed ridiculous to me for years. There are thousands of these online and in books. Even if they don’t work for you, maybe you will laugh at them, as I used to. Right now, I watch a nine-minute YouTube video in the morning. It has calming photos in the background and the woman’s voice seems soothing. The affirmations are certainly better than my previous morning routine—obsessing over the day ahead!
- Don’t take work problems so seriously (at least internally). I say internally, as nobody wants to appear as if they don’t care. This is my most difficult challenge. I am never embarrassed to admit my personal struggles with stress. Keeping a sense of humor in the tough times is probably my number one goal. If not accomplished, the other ideas on this list will be mostly futile.
Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section below or on my social media posts. You might just help someone live an endless vacation, or at least cheer them up for a moment!
In My Unexpected Life, I share stories, thoughts, and simple ideas to entertain and possibly inspire others to become more connected with each other in conversation, food, travel, and more…no matter how big or small those experiences may be.