Your Next Vacation

When people ask me “What do you do on weekends?” they are often shocked when I say “as little as possible.”

We are the only nation in the world that has a holiday honoring work. Getting away from the office has become difficult, if not impossible, for many Americans. The average worker takes only 10 days off per year. Keep in mind this does not include people with no vacation benefits or those who use holiday time to care for sick children or aging family members.

Rewarding staff with time, be they vacation, holidays or bonus time, is an excellent form of recognition. Taking the days you deserve is a way to acknowledge to yourself and your staff that you have worked hard, need a break and have a life.

The New York Times referred to this phenomenon of lessening vacation time as the “Shrinking-Vacation Syndrome”. In response to the problem, firms, such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers, have decided to close their offices for predetermined periods of time so everyone is off and out together. They have also started sending e-mail alerts to employees who are behind in taking time off. Altruism? I don’t think so. The fact is the brain and the body need to rest to continue to work at peak level. Our minds crave new vistas and different interactions. The beauty of time off is that you can extend it through memory. Whenever I need a relaxing image, say while standing on line at airport security, I send my thoughts to my perennial garden or remember a walk on the beach. It takes my stress level down immediately. But I have to visit the flowers or ocean often enough to keep the memory fresh.

So why am I bringing this up at the end of the summer? Because you may be regretting you did not get the vacation you needed. September long weekends are the best. The 2007 vacation schedule is circulating and you don’t know it. Possible?

My coaching clients know I recommend they block out and book vacation time. There is nothing more motivating than a non-refundable plane ticket or a promise to a child that you will take them camping. Work around holidays to extend the fun. Monitor when the slow periods are and get away. I never went away when my boss was on vacation because I was then in charge. But, just as important the freedom from the demands of a supervisor allowed me time to do things I never seemed to get around to finishing.

I take about six weeks vacation a year, more than I ever received in corporate life. One “big” vacation is planned. Last year it was Japan, this year it will be Argentina. Two weeks I dedicate to family. Either they come to us at the beach house or we go to them. The remaining two weeks I take around holidays — Fourth of July, New Years depending where they fall in a week. I always work half days on Fridays. The variety suits me. I have the luxury and challenge of being my own boss. On the other hand I am first and last decision maker and no work means no pay.

So here’s the challenge:

  1. Dream about your next vacation. Start the research, block out the time, save the funds, and make it happen. You earned it and deserve it.
  2. Revisit your staff’s vacation schedule. Let’s make sure people have reserved their days and that you have appropriate coverage at all times. Encourage employees who have not taken what they are due to do so. What is your organization’s policy regarding “use or lose?” 

Jane Cranston is an executive coach, career coach and “The Job Search Expert” based in New York City. She shares with success driven executives and professionals techniques, skills and goal setting strategies that advance their careers, increase people management skills and assists them in career change or job search. Receive Jane’s free "Competitive Edge Report" and the free audio download “Creating a Career Strategy” by visiting

About the Author

Jane Cranston - Executive Coach NY (New York)Executive and career coach, “The Job Search Expert,” Jane Cranston understands the challenges and opportunities in the workplace. She integrates years of experience as an accomplished senior executive with global brand name companies, with the lessons learned from opening three successful businesses, and then applies her education and coach training. This sophisticated mix affords her clients her unique perspective, business sensibility, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Jane is the founder and Managing Director of ExecutiveCoachNY, an executive and career coaching business based in New York City with clients nationwide. She coaches success-driven executives and managers to develop a career strategy that accelerates advancement, increases compensation, enhances people-management skills as well as gets the competitive edge in all business activities.

Coaching with Jane is dynamic, structured, forward-focused as well as fun and inspirational. Working with clients in fields such as finance, technology, media and entertainment, real estate, and the law, she assists them in recognizing and achieving their full potential at work and in their personal lives.

Clients claim coaching with Jane has “changed my career focus,” “helped me better understand how to motivate my staff,” “given me ideas that have increased my income by $100,000s,” and “made me realize what is my part and what isn’t,” and claim coaching is “the best thing you could do for yourself.”

Jane’s soon to be published “Great Job Tough Times” is a step-by-step job search system designed to assist managers and executives looking for employment, or contemplating leaving their current positions, with their resume writing, interviewing skills, networking techniques, and negotiating need to get the right job fast.

Jane Cranston is frequently seen on CNN’s “Your Money” and quoted in nationally syndicated newspapers, magazines, as well as Internet article sites and virtual programs. She authors the free, twice monthly, “Competitive Edge Report.” Learn more on her website


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