Although a recent FlexJobs survey notes that Millennials care quite a bit about flex time—especially as it relates to their ability to travel and take vacations—it’s often been said that this same group’s reluctant to take any time off at all.
Many fear that taking a vacation could result in an annoyed boss, not getting promoted, not getting their work done, or even losing their job! More than once, they’ve been referred to as workplace martyrs. While their older co-workers are unplugging and recharging, Millennials are leaving vacation time on the table, diligently and determinedly working (and working) to get noticed and get ahead.
While it’s easy to understand why these people think the best way to get ahead is to stay at their desks, they’re actually approaching this all wrong. Not only is it proven that taking time off is good for your overall well-being and mental health, it’s also the key to getting ahead in your career—yes, ahead.
Just consider what several career experts I spoke with have to say about this:
It Makes You More Motivated
Muse author and Career Coach Lea McLeod points out that, actually, “vacations are necessary for having a great work ethic.” She explains that science shows giving your brain a break with time away from work, “leaves it more motivated and productive” upon returning to the office.
It Gives You Much Needed Perspective
Instead of thinking that nobody can do your job, and that if you’re not there, things won’t get done or move forward, consider how much creativity you bring to the board once you’ve had a chance to recharge. Rajiv Nathan, another Muse Career Coach, notes that when you’re muddled in the day-to-day, you may lose sight of what it is you’re actually doing. But when you give yourself time to reflect (a.k.a., vacationing), that’s when you get a “compass on your career, as opposed to your job.” It’s only when you “reflect” like this and think of your future that you can “get a grip on the direction you’re headed.”
Maybe you discover that you’re doing just fine, and you don’t need to make any major changes, and that’s great. But if you never stop to unwind and relax, you risk stunting yourself and getting stuck in a rut, even if that rut has upward mobility. In the long run, no promotion or raise is going to make your refusal to give yourself a break feel very good.
It Puts You on the Promotion Track
And speaking on the topic of promotion, while it’s certainly possible that you could snag one (or both) without ever using your PTO, McLeod makes a case for how you’ll be better poised for receiving one if you give yourself a chance to hit the refresh button. “When you show up after time away, energized and refreshed,” McLeod explains, you’re ready to take on more. “Your perspective and mindset are positive and upbeat,” and you’ll appear “more confidently.” These qualities are a boon to your success.
It Reminds You What’s Important to You
Again, it’s the idea that it’s difficult to see in the moment where you’re headed that makes taking time off—and, look, it can be a planned trip or a week off in your hometown—imperative and crucial to your advancement. Muse Coach Kristina Leonardi explains it like this: “Stepping away to a different location or just from your regular routine (maybe that’s breaking from social media and setting an out-of-office reply on work email), allows you to reconnect with what’s important to you.” Maybe that is the exact job you’re doing. Or, maybe you realize that you need to make a small or large change.
Time away from the daily grind allows you to “gain a broader perspective, which will, in turn, enable you to see more clearly if you’re on the right track with both your career and your life,” Leonardi stresses.
Of course, it’s totally fine if the vacation leads you to confirm that you’re on the right path though. There’s a very good chance you’ll come back “reinvigorated with a newfound enthusiasm for what you’re doing,” Leonardi says. In other words, you don’t build character by working nonstop. Remember that the next time you worry about what a vacation will mean for your long-term career path. Taking time off not only won’t get you fired—it may instead get you ahead.
What more convincing do you need?
Photo of man at laptop courtesy of PeopleImages/Getty Images.