Here we are on the brink of Labor Day weekend. Hopefully you got some good rest this summer. Hopefully you took time off work and enjoyed a nice vacation. Have you ever taken a vacation only to come home more exhausted than before you left? It easily happens: you wanted to seize the day and experience everything on your trip, or you vacationed with children and they ran you ragged.
The pace of life in Silicon Valley is frantic. People move here to work, not to rest. Yet, our bodies depend on rest. In order to be functional and healthy, our adult bodies need to lay in a nearly unconscious state for (at the very least) 25% of every calendar day. You must rest if you plan to have a good life; there’s no such thing as the good life (on less sleep). People have tried to conquer this need and it never goes well.
On top of this, we require more than just daily rest to run at maximum capacity: we need weekly rest (aka, the weekend) and annual rest (aka, vacations). Do you come home from vacations feeling rested? I’ve come to realize something: more important than taking a vacation is being thoughtful about HOW you vacation.
My husband and I have learned through trial and error that it’s extremely beneficial to clump vacation time together to create extended vacation. This is especially true once you become a parent: it takes so much work to pack up the family, travel, and settle into new beds, new routines, and perhaps a new time zone. If the purpose of your vacation is rest, you will get exponentially more refreshment from 12 days away than from 4, three-day weekends. This is because rest doesn’t happen instantly: when your body is depleted, you need time to transition; it takes time to recover before you can enter into vacation mode and experience true rest.
Now, don’t instantly reply, “In your dreams! I could never take a longer vacation.” Have you tried? Have you taken a risk and presented your desire and the logic behind it? I’ve heard success stories of Silicon Valley professionals who have gone to their bosses and expressed their desire to clump their vacation time together. It aligns with the results-oriented, rather than time-card-punching, work culture of this region. Maybe you could even disappear for two weeks.
As you likely know, this is an area where the French shine: the country essentially shuts down for the entire month of August and everyone goes on holiday. Can you imagine?! This is the antithesis of Silicon Valley where we have allowed the internet to usher us into a work culture without boundaries. I hear of companies where there is unlimited vacation time, yet everyone takes very limited vacation because the work culture is so cut-throat.
If you are a small business owner or self-employed, be intentional about structuring your business so it doesn’t depend on your presence. You need this, your spouse needs this, your children need this. Three day weekends won’t cut it when it comes to your need for rest.
I’ll close with a dare: if you’re tired from the pace of this place, I dare you to try taking a longer vacation than you have before and experience the difference. Find a way to make it happen, think outside the box. Don’t waste your vacation time. When you live in a place like Silicon Valley, you have to keep a rock solid commitment to rest—because no one else is going to do it for you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments. What is your employer’s vacation policy? Are you rested after vacations? How could you rest better?