Have we become a vacation-less society? Even in a relaxed rig like this, you can still find Wi-Fi. (Photo: Tom O’Keefe)/
When I think back to my childhood vacations, nowhere in those happy memories are there images of my parents checking their cell phones for missed calls or incoming emails.
As an adult, however, along with other things in life that are becoming more complex such as housing costs, planning for retirement, etc., I find that my vacations take on a different hue.
Having recently returned from a weeklong trip away, it struck me … actually letting go and truly enjoying a vacation these days is becoming, well, work.
With our highly connected society of smartphones, Internet and social media, working while on vacation has become much too easy, and even possibly, expected.
The magnitude of the problem really struck me when, upon my return, a colleague said, “I didn’t hear from Lara while she was gone; she really got away, that’s great.”
His surprise that I had actually vacationed, while on vacation, made me stop and think. Have we become a vacation-less society? Are the many locals that are away on vacation at this very moment actually completely letting go of their normal daily routines in order to gain new insights and perspectives, or are they checking in to work on a regular basis?
While technology may allow us more “flex” time, where we can work from home in our pjs, stopping every now and then to snack from the fridge or watch a soap opera as long as, come the end of the day, our work is done, our constant connection may be keeping us from true “free” time to possibly grow as individuals.
Two days later, the topic came up again while I sat at my weekly Sunrise Rotary meeting. A few of my fellow members and I discussed how you must completely turn off your phone and email (or in my case, hide said phone and computer in the room of your condo while on vacation) to be able to disconnect and fully enjoy your time off. You have to make a concerted effort to let go.
But, “You have to do it,” said a fellow Rotarian. “Otherwise you’ll implode.”
And it’s true. During past “vacations” I have found myself working. Even on this recent trip, I spent about ½ hour per day checking email, posting to the website, etc. While something such as checking email could be considered menial, it still distracts us from what we should be after on vacation, which is relaxation.
Could it be that because we are in a small town and we all wear many hats that this is just the price we pay for living in paradise, a place where many visitors come for their own vacations, I asked myself? Many people I know run their own businesses and may find it tough to get away without a second in command to watch the shop.
But as I did more research [via my connection to the Internet], I realized this epidemic is not unique to our little burg. Working while on vacation has become the norm all over the United States.
In an article titled, “Too Busy for Vacation” at www.bripblap.com the author describes the phenomena of plugged in time away from work as “pseudo vacations.”
He puts the issue in perspective by pointing out that he is not a neurosurgeon and no one dies if his work is not done on time. He gets to the heart of the matter by adding, “The corporation will continue if you go on vacation. I sometimes wonder if people are just frightened of demonstrating just how unimportant they are to the overall machinery of the company.”
But by not vacationing, we are taking away an essential component that could actually make us very important to that overall machinery.
Studies show that vacations reduce stress and increase productivity in the long run, so taking a vacation will most likely mean you’ll return to work full of new ideas and be seen as a more valuable employee.
My conclusion: don’t be afraid to unplug and disconnect from your busy daily life when you go on vacation. You’ll save your sanity in the long run.