Why I’m Lousy at Vacation


This is what I discovered this summer. I really am lousy at vacation. I knew I was bad at it. I just didn’t know I was this bad. I don’t like the time away. I don’t like the extra burden before I go and after I return. I have trouble disconnecting my brain from my work, even when the phone is off and the computer is packed away.

I dream work.

And you want to hear the worst part? It affects the kids. I’m too agitated to play with them. I’m too stuck inside my brain to tell stories or play ball, to go to the park or swim in the lake.

I hate it.

There’s evidence that we don’t take enough vacation and certainly don’t take enough time for vacation. There’s evidence of the need for a shorter work week and the need for reducing our stress. And I am an advocate for all of these. I’m just not any good at it.

It happened again last week. Labor Day week, of all times, right? I took my Labor Day off, then proceeded to work all the rest of the days. Labor Day is supposed to be an additional day off and instead it was my only day off. And Monday isn’t a day I like taking off. It messes up my whole week. I¬†want to be good at this. I want to be able to take the time off and enjoy it. Because time off is supposed to be true time away. So when we

  • work extra hard the week before the vacation
  • or have a backlog of responsibilities waiting for us
  • take calls and emails on the road
  • don’t relax enough to enjoy the time we have with our families

we aren’t really off. Our brains think we’re playing hooky. Our brains think we are supposed to be working or that we are placing a burden on others.

This is the reason for vacation: so that we can be healthy. And it is unhealthy to reject Sabbath. Those of us in leadership must take responsibility for making and taking our time as true time away. To leave it right where it is and go away.

That’s why I’m trying to get better.

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