Use It or Lose, Everything

Men Building Bridges #18

Use It or Lose, Everything

Author’s note:  This post is a little different than what I’ve previously written.  It is also adapted from one of my posts on my personal blog.  At the risk of being too honest, Men, (& Women), this is honest.  We have no guarantees, each day is a gift.  Give the gift that means the most to those who matter the most to you:  Time.  Take a vacation, or lose, everything:

A recent discussion I was party to, was particularly disturbing.  Involving the planning of a 50th wedding anniversary celebration, (a year in advance), one of the participants declined to attend or participate, *an entire year ahead of time*, because they ‘… get 6 weeks paid vacation and are lucky to take 2.’  I was aghast.  The invited participant wore their bald claim as a badge of pride, martyrdom and self-importance, also claiming the importance of position, new partnerships, business ventures, commercial & residential real estate ventures, and hundreds of property closings as additional justifications for not attending their own parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  Once again, this is a celebration being planned an entire year and a half, in advance.

The casual, eager, self-important willingness to sacrifice 4 weeks of paid family vacation time with a spouse, 2 children, their siblings and own parents on the altar of cashing in is shocking & particularly disturbing.  I believe this individual, however well-intended or motivated, whether by a misguided work ethic or by fear of losing out, is most definitely, missing the point.

Work, position, and money are most definitely *NOT* the point – FAMILY & Quality of Life *ARE* the point.  This particular individual’s pride and self-importance appears to be based upon the reinforcing attitudes of their peer group composed of  CEO’s, CFO’s and other corporate high-rollers.  It is increasingly common for CEO’s, CFO’s, corporate boards, and ladder-climbing middle-managers, all the way down to line managers & supervisors to blindly insist on productivity and bottom line at the expense of even their own well-being, families and stability.  It is counter-productive and extremely misguided.  This strikes me as a particularly self-destructive impulse.

As someone who experienced a heart attack a year and a half ago, (an extremely healthy, technical professional, 45 year old triathlete no less, a driven, focused, task-oriented over-achiever), my bullshit tolerance has dropped from an already low threshold, to ZERO.  This certainly qualifies as BULLSHIT as indicated by my blaring bullshit detector.

Employers raking in record profits, margins, revenues and cash hoards constantly dumping more tasks, clients, projects, duties, deals, sales and work responsibilities on their fewer, remaining, already over-worked employees while discouraging those employees from using contractually provided paid vacation time with guilt-filled manipulations & inferred implications of less or no protection from further layoffs makes those employees complicit when they don’t use *weeks* of paid vacation time for fear of losing their jobs.  Unfortunately, those employees’ health suffers, driving up employers’ health care costs, wellness programs, hiring, and benefits are cut while at the same time destroying lives, families, and careers as co-workers bury more teammates due to cardiac disease, heart attacks, and worse. All the while, employees are left to work harder, do more, work more hours because their buried co-workers’ positions are closed, requisitions for rehire, denied.

Men, increasingly are facing this dilemma, more so than women, as indicated by a recent NPR report based on a new study by the Family and Work Institute.  I would also point my esteemed colleague to, first of all, that most hallowed of all business-friendly publications: The Wall Street Journal.

Do you really want to sacrifice your sanity, mind, health, family, your life, your career, your productivity, your quality of life with those who matter most to you to either cash in unused vacation time, ‘increase shareholder value’, ‘appease investor’s quarterly expectations’, protect vulnerable board positions, and/or pursue more deals or worse, force those working for you to do so?

My life, my time with my wife, family, and friends are worth more to me than any price tag or payday that *anyone* could *ever* offer me.  I won’t *ever* hesitate to share that sentiment with anyone demanding or attempting to manipulate me into forgoing my contractually provided paid vacation time.

I have written previously on what’s really important.  Is the corner office, boat, board level position, stock options, payday worth it if you’re divorced, don’t know your kids, and you wonder why no one wants to have anything to do with you?  What good is any of it if no one is there to share any small sliver of it with you?

Don’t take my word for it, feel free to peruse this small sampling below.  Your parents, spouse, significant other, kids, family, co-workers, boss, clients, customers, employees, and friends will thank you as you just might be happier, live a longer, healthier life, and might even live long enough to have your own 50th wedding anniversary celebrated by those you took the time to be with.  I know that would be someone I’d like to be there celebrating with.

Vacations Provide Mental Health Benefits for Women Medical News Today, 13NOV2005

Time to Take A Vacation Advantage Behavioral Health

Relax! Vacations Are Good For You NPR 17Aug2009

Take 2 Weeks & Call Me in The Morning Vacation Better, 02Sept2009

The Importance of Vacations Elizabeth Scott, M.S., 14Jun2010

Job Worries Keep Workers From Using Their Vacation Time The Jacksonville Florida Times Union, 18Jun2010

The Importance of Vacations to Our Physical & Mental Health Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D in Psychology Today, 22Jun2010

The Importance of Taking Time off From Work Stress & Time Management,  04Dec2010

One Benefit Employees Aren’t Using HRMorning, 31Jan2011

‘Life experiences, like vacations generally make people happier than purchasing material possessions.’  from CU/Boulder, Professor Leaf Van Bowen via articlebase 28Apr2011

Computers Become Schizophrenic-Like When Learning Goes into Overdrive viaBiological Psychiatry, 15May2011

Why Your Brain Needs Vacations CNN, 24May2011

How Vacations Can Boost Learning Chief Learning Officer, 07Jun2011

Work Life Balance Vacation Counts 11Mar2011

Taking a Vacation Benefits Both Employees & Employers NWITimes, 26Jun2011

More Workers Comfortable Taking a Vacation This Year HR Morning, 30Jun2011

All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup Mother Jones July/August 2011 Issue

The End of the 40 Hour Work Week Yahoo Finance 06Jul2011


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Just a guy directly challenged to write and share my experiences. This is not easy.

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