Long hours at work — like any other daily routine — can eventually become an ingrained habit. And since most humans are driven by routine, ingrained habits are notoriously hard to break. That’s why self-help gurus always counsel us to keep doing those daily sit-ups and powering through the early days, weeks and months of our new routine. By the time a year has passed, if we kept it up, the sit-ups will have worked their way into the fabric of our daily schedules and we’ll feel strange if we DON’T do them. That’s great for healthy habits like sit-ups and vegetables, but what about bad habits that can easily take over our lives in toxic ways?
Long work hours may seem like a healthy practice … at first. But if you’re contemplating a vacation and the idea of stepping away from your desk feels odd or inconceivable, here’s some news: You’ve let your daily practice become an ingrained routine, and you may need to apply a little force to break the chains that have grown around you. Take the vacation. You’ll be glad you did. Here’s why.
You don’t owe your company anything extra.
When you negotiated your salary, paid vacations were part of the compensation you settled on in exchange for your labor. You aren’t collecting free money by taking a trip; quite the opposite. By staying at work, you’re working for free. Don’t be a doormat. You bought this time with your sweat and effort. Don’t leave it on the table.
Your team will survive without you.
Your boss may roll their eyes and sigh heavily and may even act like you’re leaving the team in the lurch by stepping away for a few days. Ignore that drama. It’s a poorly designed and poorly run company that can’t manage for a few days without one person. No matter how valuable you are, the company won’t crash to the ground without your constant vigilance. Trust the system and go. Your team will be there when you get back.
Burnout is far more harmful than a short absence.
When you spend every day, week and month in the same place doing the same things with the same people, your world begins to shrink. You can’t feel it happening, but your lens becomes distorted and your view becomes narrow and incomplete. Your thinking clouds up, you miss important details and you become less empathetic, less dialed in to the world and a weaker problem solver. By stepping away, you give your brain some much-needed oxygen and perspective. Burnout undermines success, and the cure for burnout can be as simple as a temporary change of venue. Try it and see what happens.
For more on how to manage a balanced life in the modern working world, trust the experts at Extension.