We all know it is that time of year again. The days are longer, pools are open and many new face towels have been purchased. This is a perfect time of year, and the busiest, for taking vacations. I want to take this opportunity to encourage you all to take time off each year. No matter the time in the year and no matter what you decide to do or where to go, it is extremely important to take time off. Be sure to use all of your allotted vacation benefits! It is no secret that most employees in Japan do not use their full amount of annual vacation time. There are many reasons for this, but assuming you have an accommodating boss and work for a supportive company, there really is no “good” reason not to!? Here are my reasons why it is important and some ideas to enjoy the break.

1. “Recharge”

This has become cliche. I am always amazed that people on vacation can’t put down their phones, PC or tablets. Are you really recharging or just working on the beach? Yes, the view is better, but you are not really on vacation. To truly recharge, you must clear your mind of all work activities. If something is incredibly important, trust me, someone will call you. So you must unplug! This gives your mind and body time to simply enjoy life without the stress and challenges we face in daily work.

2. Explore

Life is short and there are so many places to visit and explore. Visiting new places and finding new things to do gives you more appreciation for life. Moreover, experiencing new activities, cultures, food, people, etc., can give you fresh perspectives that will help you in your professional life.

3. Laugh

Spending time with family and/or friends are the treasures of life. Embrace them. Not only will you have fun, you will further strengthen relationships. Plan fun activities that bring you together. Creating fun things to do for all keeps everyone active and engaged and at the end of the day, you all will have many great memories to reminisce over.

4. Persevere

Planning vacations and experiencing all the challenges of travel makes you stronger. Moreover, it forces you to adapt. Ever have a flight cancelled when you are overseas? Ever lose your wallet or passport? Ever take a scuba diving lesson or try riding a horse for the first time? Of course I am not advocating that you intentionally put yourself in a difficult situation, but if you do find yourself in need, you are forced to create a solution. At the time, you are naturally angry, depressed or demoralized, but this is life and these experiences allow you to plan better and overcome challenges… and these “troubleshooting” experiences will help your day-to-day work related challenges.


I do know many people complain that vacations are expensive and this is one reason not to take time off. If you plan to take an overseas trip, or first class domestic travel, I agree. However, taking a vacation “at home” is equally refreshing. Explore your neighborhood or close proximity landmarks. Take up a new hobby or take lessons in something that has always interested you. A vacation is time used to unwind and refresh, so you don’t have to be on a beach somewhere to do it. You can accomplish all 4 points above in your own local community.

Wherever you go (or don’t go) and whatever you do, be sure to use your vacation time. You will be happy that you did!

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