Vacation and the Big Question

Most would agree that vacations are important. Studies indicate that vacations can help your brain re-wire itself to make you not only feel better but be more productive. (This is all based on the assumption that you actually leave work behind while you’re on vacation.) It’s worth considering whether the people who don’t take vacation are more or less organized, productive, and easy to deal with than those who go on vacation.

Welcome (Back) to the Working Week

In addition to helping you recharge your mental and emotional batteries, vacations—because they break you out of your work routine—force you to confront the reality that is your job. And that forces you to confront the big issue of job satisfaction. Should you stay where you are, look for a similar job with a different employer, or strike out in a completely different direction?

These questions might be helpful as well: Do you find yourself counting down the days to your next vacation? Do you dread coming back to work after a vacation?

The Car-Crash Option

I recently returned from a vacation, and as I drove my family home I found myself thinking about an upcoming work negotiation that I was not eagerly anticipating. That made me recall a job interview I had years ago with an attorney-manager at a legal recruiting company. When I asked how she came to have that job, she told me that she knew she needed to get out of family law practice when she found herself driving to work one Monday morning and thinking that if she could just somehow get into a minor car accident, she would not have to go in that day.

I’ve never had the urge to gently crash my car while driving to work, although I’ve had a few jobs with co-workers who were, honestly, repulsive. The real analysis you need to undertake is not really about the job you have, but about whether you will find yourself at the end of your life cursing your failure to go get (or create) your dream job.

Why It’s Called ‘Work’

Are we just over-educated, spoiled narcissists? Why is it not okay to just see your job as exchanging labor for money—the way you pay your bills, support your family, and save for retirement?

You are not “trapped” in your current job. You can quit if you want to. But if you don’t, be a kind co-worker today. That will help you feel better. But unless you are already in your dream job, that “returning from vacation” question will likely keep coming back around.

Originally published 2011-08-31. Republished 2017-07-28.


  1. I am chuckling about the car-crash option.

    Good question about whether “work” is just a way to pay the bills. I think we deserve to get fulfillment from something we spend 1/3 of our lives doing. (I call this the “External Purpose” in my wellness model for lawyers) Not everyone needs the same level of fulfillment from their job. For some, having security of a steady paycheck is enough.

    It all depends on what each person’s Big Question is (your title is what made me click through to read the post as I use that phrase in my work with lawyers). For me, the Big Question is more than ideal job, it’s the essence of one’s life purpose.

  2. Avatar Jennifer G. says:

    Another good test that I give myself is would I stay in my current position if I won the lottery. Sure, I might run my practice a little differently if I didn’t have the contraints of money and I might take a little more vacation, but day in and day out, this is what I’d be doing even if I didn’t have the money.

  3. Avatar Dave S says:

    You really have to like what you do in order to have the drive and motivation to succeed. Sure, you may have days or weeks you don’t enjoy, but overall you have to like what you do.
    I also think a big part of it is you feel like you are being paid what you are worth and are incented financially for your hard work. Hard to be motivated to work hard otherwise.

Leave a Reply