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As someone who’s self-employed and thinks he’s more important than he actually is, take it from me: it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the world needs you more than it actually does. Provided you plan properly, stepping back or disconnecting from your work won’t make the world fall apart. In fact, I’d argue that taking some time off is one of the best things you can do for your productivity.
According to Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan’s recent article in the Harvard Business Review, more than half of Americans (55%) leave vacation time unused. On top of this, while Americans took an average of three weeks of vacation time in 2000, they took just over two weeks off in 2015.
Shawn and Michelle discovered something remarkable in the research: taking time off literally pays. “If you take 11 or more of your vacation days, you are more than 30% more likely to receive a raise.” This is a remarkable statistic: when you leave vacation time unused, you’re not only volunteering your time—you’re also setting yourself back in your career.
The lesson here is clear: if you frequently leave vacation days unused, use them! Your career depends on it.