by Deborah LeBaron
Going on holiday sounds wonderful. The idea of a trip to some magical place, the prospect of not just a change of place but a change of pace, and perhaps the chance to live in a different way, even for a short period of time, are all part of what attracts us to travel. However, making a trip a reality is sometimes impossible. Perhaps the financial burden of a trip is beyond our means or perhaps we can’t find a travelling partner and don’t have the courage to go it alone.
The possibility of a holiday is affected by the demands of work. If you have a demanding position, you may find that taking time off is hard to arrange. However, it is equally (or more) difficult to take a holiday when your employment is precarious. You may work from contract to contract, have been recently hired and thus feel uncertain about the wisdom of taking time off, or just not have the money to go away.
One of the realities of contract work, especially if you do short-term contracts, is the feeling that you always have to be ready to say “yes” to work. This can lead to periods of overwork which alternate with periods of no work (and the attendant anxiety of whether you will ever work again). This pattern can make the idea of a holiday seem impossible.
We all need time off work. Whether you are planning a long holiday or a day away, taking time off takes discipline. It isn’t only the discipline required to save up the money you need for your holiday. It is hard to avoid checking calls and messages, hard not to pick up the phone when it rings. It is hard to say to potential employers that you won’t be available for a period of time.
If you are only able to take short periods of time off, block them off as if they were work. Prepare a message that lets potential employers know how long you will be unavailable and when you will be able to return calls. Start small: a day at a time may be all you can afford, economically and psychologically. If you know that there are predictable slack periods in your line of work, try to take time off then. At least you won’t be pacing around the house waiting for calls!
It helps to plan an activity for your vacation day (or days). This gives your day some structure and prevents you from just hanging around the house thinking about things that need doing, wondering what to do with your day, or wondering whether you have any messages. Checking for messages, even if you don’t return calls, means that you are focussed on work, rather than on your time off.
Planning and research can add to the pleasure of a holiday. Whatever you plan, whether it’s a day or a month, a free neighbourhood activity or an elaborate expedition, when the time comes, focus on your holiday and enjoy it.
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