The most successful people hold this endangered family activity sacred

Notable success stories like Bill Gates, Marissa Mayer, and Richard Branson have many things in common.

They’re rich, powerful, and leaders of global companies.

They’re also excellent vacation-takers.

This ability — to just drop everything and migrate somewhere warm — is an increasingly rare skill in the American workforce, and it’s killing our chances at professional success.

Without time off, people risk doing damage to their health, productivity, relationships, and overall happiness.

Even kids, who won’t enter the workforce for years, suffer from their parents’ lack of vacation time. In the short term, they have less fun. In the long term, they absorb their parents’ work ethics, perpetuating the cycle of constant work.

To keep the future workforce happy and productive, parents would probably do well to start taking more time off.

Some of the best data on paid-time off trends, however, say this is hardly on the horizon.

Project: Time Off, a research arm of the nonprofit US Travel, found last year that family vacations are dying as a whole.

People take approximately a week less of vacation time today than they did in 2000, and 42% of people reported they didn’t take a single day off last year.

The cultural diagnosis is “Work Martyr Complex” — the condition in which people see their own busyness as a sign of diehard loyalty, to the point where they chain themselves to their desk all year.

The Mayers and Bransons of the world know, however, that the breaks afforded by vacations are necessary investments in future productivity and well-being.

“When you go on vacation, your routine is interrupted,” Richard Branson told Entrepreneur in 2013. “The places you go and the new people you meet can inspire you in unexpected ways. As an entrepreneur or business leader, if you didn’t come back from your vacation with some ideas about how to shake things up, it’s time to consider making some changes.”

For the average employee — not just the powerful CEO — the stakes are still high.

Project: Time Off has also found that people who take more vacation days get promoted more often. Specifically, those who take all their available time off have a 6.5% greater chance of getting a raise or promotion than people who left 11 or more days on the table.

The idea that working more is going to show your boss how diligent you are and send you up the ladder is just false.

Working at all is more productive than slacking, but it doesn’t hold that working more is better than working less.

Often, the exact opposite is true.

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