A Two Week Vacation
I took a boat trip around the fjords of Norway a few days ago with two strangers, both European. We started talking, and at one point the British lady asked me if it was true that Americans get only two weeks of vacation. I confirmed and watched her face turn to complete “do not compute” confused state… I had to agree with her…
She asked me how we lived like that, and I tried to explain that it’s normal, so you don’t really think about it. I only realized later in my 20s that vacation is something that could be negotiated in addition to higher salary, but even then, I didn’t feel comfortable doing that… Do you really want to make yourself look like a slacker before you even start the job?!
Oh yeah, and I explained that when you do take a vacation, many companies make you feel guilty about it! It’s like your manager is granting you a great favor that you should be grateful for… Some even want you to be available on your vacation! I still remember the one time I was sick in the winter and asked for a day off - my manager said that he was sick too, but he was taking drugs and still coming to work. I took the day off and lost respect for that manager from then on. Disgusting behavior!
I have one friend from the US who moved to Barcelona about a year ago. The first time I saw her a few months after her move, I was in shock. She went from being a negative irritated anxious person to a white swan. That’s the best way I could described it! She was relaxed and happy and beautiful. Her pure white light of energy shined through.
Now that I travel and have my own business, I take A LOT of time off. I work, but I know that working more hours isn’t necessarily the best for my business. I need to be creative and inspired to make the right hard decisions. It’s easier for me to do that with a clear inspired mind that I get from traveling and exploring something new, meeting new people.
I’m also big on believing that constraints are good. By working less, I need to prioritize what is actually important vs what is unnecessary busy work. Working too much means staying down in the details. By going out and adventuring, I get the bigger perspective on everything. Things that seemed like the end of the world yesterday are just not that big of a deal when you hiked a mountain for a few hours.
The truth is that two weeks of vacation is not enough for anyone. And it is as unbelievable and crazy as the European lady’s reaction to this news. It is very very sad that that is the norm in America. I think many companies would benefit from the energy, perspective, creativity and better health of their employees if they allowed more vacation.