While vacations sometimes feel like “playing hooky” from your professional life, the
truth is that they actually make you a better worker: When you have a healthier work-life
balance, you’re going to be a better, more productive employee. Companies like Google
are starting to acknowledge this fact by taking away their employees’ cell phones when
they go on vacay to ensure they really relax.
Despite this, chances are that you’re too scared to take all of those hard-earned vacation
days. A recent study shows that the average American accrues nine unused vacation days
every year. Well guess what—if you’re not going on vacation, then you’re completely
missing the boat (and the cruise ship). The fact is that, if you go on vacation the right
way, your vacay won’t put you at risk for getting fired—it could actually get you
How? Well, first, you have to develop what we call a boss mentality. This means that
you need to think and act like a boss, even if you’re on the lowest rung of the corporate
ladder. You might think you don’t have it in you, but you do—you’re the boss of your
house, right? You manage to cook, clean, get the kids to school, pay the bills, and keep
a roof over your head, right? That’s a boss mentality! Now you just need to apply it at
work. Here’s how:
1. DECIDE that you are leadership material. Again, you do it in your “home” life, so
you can do it at work.
2. BECOME the “go-to guy” in your position. When someone is having problems,
stay five minutes late to help them, whether you like that person or not. Be
proactive when you see problems instead of complaining about them. Suggest
ways in which you can help beyond your assigned duties.
3. BE COACHABLE. Be inquisitive and open to learning new things.
Once you have developed the boss mentality, you will naturally begin to excel in your
job in ways you never thought possible. But just as importantly, your coworkers and
your own boss will begin to see you as a leader—someone who deserves to be promoted,
because you already have the traits, skills, and knowledge of someone in a position of
So, how does this apply to vacations? Well, you just apply the boss mentality to how you
approach your vacation. Here’s how:
1. Make Your Vacation Request a solution, not a problem. When you’re thinking like
a boss, you’ll understand why boss’s don’t want you to leave: they’re nervous. So, if you
pitch a vacation as an apology (i.e., “I hope it’s not too inconvenient, but I really want
some time away”), you’re increasing your boss’s anxiety and he’ll see your vacation as a
nuisance. Instead, pitch your vacation as a solution:
When you ask for time off, present your boss with a plan for who will cover your
duties at that exact moment.
Tell your boss which projects will be done by the time you leave.
Determine who will take over your calls and emails
Provide a rationale for why the dates you want are actually GOOD timing for
2. Ensure everything at work and home is taken care of before you leave. Plan
who is going to pick up your mail, water your plants, and feed the cats. That will allow
you to enjoy your vacation instead of worrying about life back home. At work, don’t
just ask people to cover for you. Send an email to your boss and your coworkers with
this information in writing. This not only covers your butt if someone drops the ball,
but ensures the office can function without you. And, it’s a classic example of the boss
3. Make sure your boss can check in with you when you’re gone. Vacations are for
checking out mentally, but you want to make sure you can be reached if necessary. So:
Provide your boss with contact info for where you can be reached.
Set up an email a schedule for when you will check email (e.g. once every day),
and stick to it.
Before you leave, ask your boss and other coworkers if there’s anything they
If you follow all of these tips, you’ll be able to have a relaxing vacation, knowing that
everything at work is taken care of. But you’ll also show your supervisors that you have a
boss mentality—and that means that they’ll come to realize that you not only deserve that
vacation…you deserve a promotion!