Right now millions of Americans are trying to figure out how to squeeze in the last of their remaining vacation days. Or worse, they are watching them disappear into the ether like the rest of 2015. According to a study by Oxford Economics the average American hits Dick Clark-Seacrest’s Rockin Eve with one week of unused vacation days still in their pocket. And when the ball hits Jenny McCarthy the vacation days disappear like gym goers in February.
This disturbing little study, commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association puts current vacation day consumption at the lowest point in the past four decades. And for those of you who don’t have a days-to-dollars calculator in your head, the result is 169 million days forfeited, amounting to $52.4 billion in lost benefits. Which means that your most valuable charitable contribution this year likely didn’t go to your church, the homeless or curing cancer. It went to your employer.
But there is yet a deeper problem here that The Perfect Agency Project would like to address. It’s the negative impact forgoing your vacation days has on your creative thinking. In fact, according to the National Science Foundation humans have an average of 50,000 thoughts every day. And if you don’t enjoy new experiences, read new books and meet new people you know what happens? You have the same 50,000 thoughts day after day. This type of stale thinking is career-threatening if you are a writer, art director, creative director, designer, strategist, developer, programer or marketer.
To enhance your creativity you have to add new fuel to the fire. And the best way to do that is to take a day off and experience something new. Travel somewhere you’ve never been. Meet someone new. Jump off something you’ve never jumped off. Scare yourself. Binge watch sunrises and sunsets. Visit a museum. Go to Burning Man. Because new stimuli create new memories. Which create new thoughts and new pathways. You will naturally incorporate all of these new thoughts into your work. Which empowers you to solve new problems with more beautiful solutions.
So if you want to make 2016 your most creative and innovative year yet take your vacation days. It will freshen your thinking, expand your brain and make you a more valuable asset to your organization. Oh, and if you do decide to jump off something you’ve never jumped off before make sure your mom isn’t driving by in her minivan. Trust me on this one.