Why Successful People Take Vacations
January 7, 2015

Why Successful People Take Vacations

by Brian de Haaff

America is a workaholic nation. This age of endless information and continuous innovation means we often feel compelled to stay glued to our devices — even on vacation. I know that I do. But worse, people never even get away. And that hurts.

The result is billions of lost dollars — because people are burnt out.

I’ve worked at six early-stage companies. I’ve served as CEO of three startups, including now at Aha! (product roadmap software). I know the heartburn and sacrifices that come with startup life. We cannot afford to hire people who are not all in — but this daily grind is exactly why people break down.

I have a secret: I am not impressed by employees who never take a vacation. Vacations (especially somewhere new) make you a better person and employee.

“Staycations” are useless though. So when you go, go big if you can.

I don’t put all the blame on employees. This is a systemic issue. Nearly half of Americans took zero days off in the summer of 2014, and 41% of Americans took no vacation days in 2014.

Contrary to office peer pressure, vacations are vital. I do my best to take meaningful ones myself and even traveled with the family a few years ago through Italy. Vacations allow you to:

Recover In “The Power of Full Engagement“, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz argue that life should be lived as a series of sprints — not a marathon. Coaching the world’s most elite athletes showed them it wasn’t always the most talented players who rose to the top. It was those who built strategic recovery into their lives. Positive rituals enrich our lives; vacation is one of them.

Replenish Just as we all need sleep to rest our brains, we need a vacation to rest our bodies. If you’re in the right job for you, then you’re being challenged on a daily basis. You are having a direct impact on your team and company. That requires enormous effort — and deserves some well earned time away.

Refresh A study from American Express found that more than a third of small business owners got their best ideas on vacation. Daily routines are a must, but time away can be equally inspiring. Even if the next iPhone is not born, vacations are key to decreasing absenteeism and sick leave — which can cost businesses billions each year.

We are conditioned to believe that simply “being” is insufficient. If we are not training for a race, flying to a conference, or leading a sale, we question our sense of self-worth.

Choosing to take a vacation you have earned (and need) is making a statement that you are worth it. To a CEO, that confidence is invaluable. Start planning your summer trip now.

When was the last time you took a great vacation? How did your boss feel?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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