Do you take your vacation days?
Do you use them to be “off”?
I’ve noticed a new phrase in the past couple of years: “real PTO.” (PTO = paid time off)
As in, “I’m trying to take a real PTO this year…” which is code for “I don’t plan to attend meetings, answer email, or engage in instant messaging.”
This is not a universal perspective on how work should work. Most of my colleagues in the UK, Europe, and Australia have no problem taking their time off.
One company I worked with in Australia ended the workday with a trip to the pub. It was actually part of their work culture. Working long hours was not considered a virtue and working while on holiday was verboten.
It’s so bizarre, when you think about it, the expectation to be “on” even while you’re “off.”
And yet there is often unspoken pressure to feel the pressure to do so. Yup, pressure to feel pressure.
When my kids were little, they were on the birthday party circuit.
The moms would hand out goody bags full of candy and trinkets. And the moms would also talk about how they hated the tradition of handing the kids a bag full of future tummy ache and garbage.
I had a talk with a friend where she was saying, “I just want to not do it…but I also don’t want my kid to be the only one who doesn’t hand out a goody bag.”
It’s the same flawed thinking that shows up on the average American “vacation”: “I don’t want to be the only one who doesn’t check in…what will they think of me?”
I don’t mean that to be rude, but if you take your time off and you’re actually off, what are the perceived negative consequences? What will you think about your decision?
It really does come down to a decision or series of decisions.
This is your job. This is the culture in your workplace. These are things you have said “yes” to.
How or if you keep working while you’re on vacation is your decision, too.
I’ve found through personal experience and coaching others that simply knowing that you are choosing your actions can be a HUGE stress buster.
If you’re going to do the goody bag for your kid’s birthday party, do it with a willing heart. Or just don’t and maybe risk being a trailblazer. Think of how much trash could be prevented – figuratively and literally – when you do what you think is right for you.
If you’re going to go totally offline on vacation, embrace your choice and any emotional discomfort that might arise. Maybe you’re setting an example to yourself and others of your values around work.
And, if you’re going to check in, know that you are saying “yes” to those actions. Maybe use it as an opportunity to check in with how you want to see yourself in relation to your job. Checking and answering email may be in alignment with your intention for your future self.
What you choose is yours to choose, including whether or not to take your time “off” or “on.”
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with the “Less Stress, More Fun” podcast. Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes offer smart, fun ideas to reduce stress and boost your sense of playfulness.