Find Time to Vacation Before Year-End
Earlier in my nonprofit career, I would take time off to go on a vacation. In truth, while I was physically away from the job, I was mentally there. I would spend time in the Florida sun thinking about what I had to do when I returned. After being off, I would come to the office physically relaxed but mentally drained.
I felt such a sense of duty to the organization that I always felt a sense of responsibility to the job. My parents worked their entire lives, and I always felt the need to always give 100% to the job. Over time, I realized that idea was stupid in the sense that I needed vacations to get completely away from the job and organization. I wanted to return after the vacation refreshed and recharged to do even better work.
I previously wrote how I would take a vacation to focus on my body, mind and spirit. I would workout on vacation to a degree, read a book that interested me and focus on the enjoyment of seeing physical beauty.
I’m actually writing this on the last day of my vacation — a seven-day cruise in the Caribbean with my wife. We enjoyed St. Thomas, St. Maarten and the Bahamas. We went snorkeling, helmet diving, and enjoyed the music and food of the Caribbean. I sang a song in the karaoke lounge and spent time in the ship’s pools. I locked my work phone in the safe for a week and turned my mind completely away from the office. I knew work would return in seven days.
The nonprofit sector sucks at vacationing plus resting on vacation. Nonprofit employees come to work exhausted, but need to do a better job of taking care of themselves. When employees are not at their best, their performance suffers. Because of the demands of the job, families, at times, may be neglected as they also need a vacation.
Life is short and everything happens in life a specific number of times. Taking time off that you earned provides you with memories and opportunities for enjoyment not found on the job. Knowing that your family needs a break with you, take vacations as seriously and you do your work.
Being away from work is critical for you to work at optimal levels of focus, attention, productivity and creative thinking. It also greatly relieves your stress. And research has shown more vacation resulted in greater work success.
Additionally, as I have experienced, poorly planned and stressful vacations eliminate the positive benefit of time away. The research also showed that, for the first time in history, more than half of Americans left vacation days unused, which equated to 658 million annual unused vacation days. On top of leaving paid time off on the table, those workers did not improve their chances of work advancement either.
Those employed in the United States are working more hours and taking less time off, which creates physical and mental health challenges. Taking a vacation improves physical health, mental health, well-being, motivation, family relationships and happiness — all while decreasing burnout. Take a vacation if you can do it. A vacation enables you to be better prepared to deal with the reality of the job when you return.
We have now entered what I call the “big push stage” of the year for nonprofits, which is October, November, and December. It is imperative that you are at your best physically and mentally going into the big push. My suggestion to you is take a vacation sooner than later. When I returned home after my vacation, I felt refreshed and ready to go for what lies ahead!
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.