Full disclosure here mandates that I let you know I am feeling a bit cranky as I sit down to write today’s post. It’s Sunday morning, the sun is shining, and while it seems like it’s getting hotter earlier this year than I would like, it’s basically a beautiful day. Other than writing this post, I have the vast majority of my day laid out in front of me and I don’t have much of anything I am obligated to do. You have to understand that these sorts of days are incredibly rare for me – like finding a platypus in your toilet kind of rare. So what am I going to do with this beautiful day of extremely limited obligations?
Nothing. That’s kind of why I’m cranky.
Second only to thinking about winning the lottery, I love to think about having nothing to do. I can imagine how much fun I’m going to have, the adventures I am going to go on – probably get a tan in the process, maybe run into some famous people who want to hang out with me and drink a beer while sitting on a patio in the shade of a large oak tree. Sounds pretty nice and totally seems completely reasonable that these sorts of things would actually happen to me. All I need to do is walk out the door and let the magic happen …
… but nothing ever happens.
While I think about these rare obligation-free days a lot, I don’t actually ever do anything with them. I’m actually bad at taking days off – it’s almost as if I secretly hate vacations. Did you know that whenever I do take a vacation, I can basically guarantee you that I will get sick … is that a thing? Does it happen to other people, or is it just me? Probably just me.
I received an email the other day – the entire company did – from our Human Resources department, and it basically said that our calendar year for vacation days is going to be completed at the end of June and that we should really consider using any vacation time that we have accrued this past year before we lose it. I thought “That’s nice – way to go HR Department, I appreciate you letting me know. You are awesome.” So I went into our system to see that, maybe if I’m lucky – I could possibly, maybe, have some unused vacation days leftover that I could use to extend some weekend a bit, maybe go drink that beer in the shade of an oak tree with some celebrities …
I did NOT have a day or two … I have 14 days of vacation time available to me.
This has to be a mistake, and since I consider myself a company man, I decided to go back through my calendar just to make sure that someone didn’t make a mistake. Nope … apparently I’m just really bad at taking time off. Now, in my defense, I did have a vacation scheduled just a while back where I was going on my first cruise EVER – I was going to meet my family in Budapest and we were going to take ten days to float (cruise?) up the Danube river, eventually ending up in Germany … but that trip was canceled due to this current Coronavirus situation.
Luckily my office is pretty cool about this sort of thing and they have some steps in place for people like me who apparently hate vacations. I can roll 5 days to this next year (the irony being that I didn’t take the days I earned this year, what makes me think I’ll use them all plus an additional 5 days next year?) and I can roll another 5 days into a “Wellness” account which is basically a vacation day bank account where these day’s don’t ever expire and when I retire, they’ll cash me out for those days. This all means that I only need to use the remaining four days within the next 12 business days to not lose any of the time I have accrued … which brings me back to my original problem. What am I going to do with these vacation days?
First and foremost, I am here to tell you that despite my own behavior, you really should find a way to take the time off your company provides. It’s important for your mental and physical health, improved familial relationships, greater well-being, it’ll allow you to keep focused when on the job, not to mention that vacations are something that most people look forward to so there is the “anticipation benefit” (one of the more underrated benefits by my estimation).
Don’t be like me – please take your vacations; they’re important and I want you to have a good time.
PS – this is how I spent my “do-nothing” Sunday afternoon … my daughter Kate is somewhere in the middle of this splash. Enjoy my foot at the very bottom.