Things I learned on vacation – part II (the vacation curve)

I was writing a post before I left on vacation about balance. I struggle with this a lot – the real (and perceived) pressures of my job, travel, time with my family, etc. I was writing about how difficult is can be to balance the business and personal aspects of your life, but now that I read it, it sounds kind of ‘woe is me’ rather than particularly profound (so I’ll spare you and not post it). That said, the spirit of the post is right on – and there’s nothing like vacation to remind you how important it is to find this balance. There’s also nothing quite like a vacation to remind you how important it is to actually take vacation.

I’ve noticed that there seems to be a real ‘need to take vacation’ curve, which if you graphed it would look something like this:


Under this theory, your need for vacation (where the X axis is the time since your last vacation and the Y axis is your need for another vacation) first rises relatively linearly, then hits a plateau of some sorts and then rises exponentially. The key if to know when you’re at your plateau and then take time off (rather than wait until your vacation need starts to escalate rapidly). The curve changes based on what’s going on in your life, how good your last vacation was, how much you are able to step away on weekends, etc.; but I think it follows this general pattern and has roughly the same shape.

Just before I left, I wrote a post saying that I was going on vacation. Dave Jilk commented on the difference between taking a trip and actually taking a vacation (see the comment here). While I disagree with the bringing the kids along part of the comment (he thinks that’s because our daughter is still very young), I completely agree with the distinction (and have been quoting him liberally when talking about my vacation).

So don’t forget to take some time off, and definitely don’t confuse trips with real vacation. You deserve it.