I need a break!!!

How many times have you heard someone say this, including yourself? I woke up this morning and begin to think about ALL of the things that I have going on and my conclusion is… “I need a break!!!” The sad part is that even though I need to step away and go on vacation, the truth is that I won’t. And what’s more, YOU won’t either.

According to a CNN report, as an average, Americans were expected to give up 2 days of vacation time due to non-usage. Seriously? Use it or lose it in full effect!! The part that was crazy to me is that as an average we only received 12 days to begin with which is already down from 14 days in 2011. So, we lost 2 days and then we gave up 2 days… something about this story just ain’t right!!! But, this is better than 2011!! How about in 2011, 57% of Americans had unused vacation time and MOST of them had 11 days leftover!!! That’s like 70% of their vacation just left on the table.

I did a little more digging around and according to a 2011 Business Insider article, among all of the developed countries in the world, the United States has the 3rd least amount of days off. We got beat by Canada and China in that respect. We hardly get any vacation time but then we don’t use it. Hong Kong is next in line with 26 vacation days! That’s almost double what we have!! On the other end of the spectrum the French, Russians, Fins, Brazilians and Lithuanians all get 40 or more vacation days per year!!!! Man, I’m trying to tell you… 40 days!!! Child please…

But, why don’t we take vacations? The top three reasons that I’ve found are… (1) Most of us feel that we have too much work; (2) We can’t afford to travel; or (3) we’re afraid to take off.

Let’s talk about affordability first. The greatest issue that I’ve learned in talking with people about vacation isn’t the cost of the vacation but rather the expectation. We feel like in order to take a vacation, we need to go somewhere far away. We need to get those frequent flyer miles up. We need to be sittin’ on somebody’s island somewhere. Real talk… What is a vacation? According to Webster, it is a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation. Does it say how far we need to go? Let me help you… NO!!! That’s where we get it messed up. We’ve all laughed at people that said that they were going on vacation but they weren’t leaving the city. It’s a waste of time. You better save it up so you can GO somewhere. No, that’s the wrong thinking. If a vacation is simply vacating my everyday pattern then let’s go get a hotel room 15 minutes away from home and just eat room service for one night.

The feeling of having too much work and the fear of taking off are like first cousins. They are definitely related. The question that I have always posed to people who have these fears is, “What happens to your job if you were to die?” The quick and easy answer is this… they will put someone else in your seat. They will train someone else and the job will keep moving. Not taking a vacation because of workload is dumb. There will ALWAYS be volume. There will ALWAYS be deadlines. YOU will NOT ALWAYS be around. We overwork ourselves until we get sick. Longer hours in the office and now we work at home. We don’t even stop working to have dinner anymore. We have our iPads right there on the kitchen table. I’m sorry to tell you this but STOP IT!!!!!!

Being afraid to take off is the same thing. Why are you scared to leave? If YOUR job were important and your work ethics were good then you bring value to the employer and would be hard to replace. If not, then they are waiting for you to mess up again anyway. You might as well take a vacation and get paid to be off!! Seriously, if you’re afraid to take a vacation because someone else is going to do your job while you’re gone… Go get another job.

True story: When we lived in Miami, Florida, we met a couple that were long-time residents of the city. If you know anything about people that live on or near ANY coast, most of them never go to the beach. But, as newcomers, my wife and I were ALWAYS at the beach. This couple was so overtaken by our love for the water that they decided to come with us a few times. Don’t forget, they’ve been living next to the beach for at least 15-20 years but they never went. Their goal was to retire to Georgia, or somewhere up South, within a few years. Here’s the turnaround, they said that they didn’t have the time to go and see the city or go to the beach like we did. But, after they retire to Georgia, they would come back to Miami and spend vacations there…

Here’s the wrap-up, our lives are fully stressed. As a society, we are wound up tighter than a serpentine belt. There is a reason that employers offer vacation time. It’s not because they want to, trust me. It’s because they need to. Employees who take vacations are generally happier, more content and more productive. So, do your boss a favor… TAKE OFF!!!!

I love you ALL!!!
Stay blessed,
Jackie

Family

It is said that the family unit is the most important building block to society. If this is true, then why don’t we spend more time with our families? Many of us, men, go to work because of our families, to support them.

What’s interesting is that I put the question, “why do men go to work” into Google. The page one responses were shocking to me. The Top Ten hits for this question went from a non-gender specific site about why people work to ‘Why do men cheat’ to ‘5 Reasons Men go silent’ to ‘why do men work their socks off for women’ to erectile dysfunction to the ‘myth of male decline’ to ‘why men fail’ to ‘why men sleep better than women’ to ‘why are women paid less’ to ‘why do men lose interest in their wives’. Here’s the breakdown of “Page 1” – one response about the actual question; seven about relational problems; and two about women (not men). The only response about family was the last one and that was negative. This saddens me because it reflects our mindset as a society.

My original thought for today’s letter was about reuniting the family more and not just your distant relatives but also your in-house family. We just don’t spend enough time at home with our families. There are 24 hours in a day. The average person spends 8 hours sleeping, 8 hours at work, 1 hour for lunch, 2 hours travel to/from work, 1 hour to prepare dinner which leaves 4 hours for eating dinner and actual family time, according to the numbers. But let’s not leave out reality. Reality says that we may have 4-6 hours available for family time but there is one tiny factor that’s not seen and that is our schedules. What time does each person’s schedule begin/end in a given household? My schedule starts at 4 am. My wife’s schedule starts at 7 am and the children’s at 7:30. Add the children’s homework and bedtime which is 8:00 pm and actual family time is cut down to 2 hours.

We may work to support our families but we need balance.

But, something really cool happened yesterday. My wife got to visit with a cousin with whom she hadn’t seen face-to-face in nearly 20 years. This reunion was awesome! It’s been a longtime since I’ve seen that type of happiness from her. Reconnecting with your family is very special. All too often the only time that we get to see our extended families are at funerals and even then the time is rushed. Some families have established Family Reunions. I’ve seen these scheduled annually, bi-annually and sometimes every 5 years. No matter what the schedule, we should make it our business to reunite with our families.

Let’s do something different today…
Contact 5-7 family members with whom you are not already in constant contact with. Call them up and see how they’re doing. Send them an email. Facebook them… You never know how much they’ll be blessed by your unexpected touch.

I love you ALL!!!
Stay blessed,
Jackie