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I have a 5 days working schedule (and on the weekends I do work for personal growth). My schedule is literally so hectic that sometimes I feel I need a long vacation (at least 15-20 days). With such a busy schedule and long learning curve I am bit concerned about losing my creativity and inventiveness.

My current firm is not allowing me to take such long leave (they laughed when I seriously discussed this issue with them).

Another option is to take a break and then join another firm... but this sounds risky to me at my geographic location.

How could I regain my positive energy and most feasible solution for me?

  • 1
    I edited this a bit to clean it up some as well as remove specific references to software as this problem is not only within the software industry. Let me know if any of these changes modified your intent significantly! – enderland May 11 '13 at 14:33
  • @enderland no the heart ans soul still remains the same ..so no issues with the edit :) – swapnesh May 11 '13 at 16:53
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    Can you clarify one thing: do you have 15-20 days of paid leave accumulated, but your employer won't let you take them all at once? Or do you not have them, and want to use your leave and also take some extra leave without pay? – Carson63000 May 12 '13 at 0:48
  • @Carson63000 I have around 45(CL+Paid leave)..but they are not allowing me to take at once..they r thinking..that in the meantime I may join some another firm or looking for job change. – swapnesh May 12 '13 at 5:51
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    I'd suggest giving up the personal growth time for a month or two as a quick fix. See if you feel better after taking some normal weekends to relax. This isn't a long-term fix, because you do want to continue the personal growth, but it's an easy change to test which won't affect your current job. – Bobson May 13 '13 at 18:03
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This is a great question! I am actually writing this answer while on vacation for similar reasons.


Disclaimer: this is going to be a decently long answer which comprehensively addresses this situation.

Acknowledge the problem

Eventually, working all day every day will burn almost everyone out. People need breaks. Some people see this applying differently to them, but on the whole, it is necessary (see this question for a lot of links on this subject).

This is really hard for some people. So many people (and worse, managers) think working more hours is the "solution" to all problems. This is a terrible cycle.

Find the root causes

This is harder to do well. What is actually causing you to burnout and become braindead/difficult to think/etc? Some possible things:

  • Staying up too late and/or too little sleep
  • Day job with significant responsibilities
  • Spending all free-time working
  • Not having relaxing hobbies
  • Finding self-worth in work
  • Stressful situations in personal life
  • Stressful situations in work life
  • Unrealistic expectations from others
  • Uncommunicated expectations ("I think my boss wants me to work 60 hours a week!")
  • Never taking vacation
  • Letting personal responsibilities pile up
  • Minimal friendships outside work context(s)
  • Desired priorities not matching time allocation
  • "Destressing" with activities which are not relaxing
  • Kids/family
  • Owning a home

This list is not intended to be comprehensive.

Normally, people do not burn-out willingly. No one decides, "hey you know what? I want to burn out, so I'm going to start working all the time, never take any breaks, and my life will be miserable - sign me up!" It's a slow process with lots of factors.

Figure out what they are in your life. Ask your friends if you are having a hard time with this. Or look at your calendar to see where all your time/energy goes.

Find ways to solve the root cause(s)

Once you know what the real problem(s) are, start finding ways to solve them. Normally it will not be a simple "just do X!" and solve the problem.

A lot of times, people just are busy all the time. My experience is people try to "relax" with things which ultimately are not relaxing. Figure out what works for you. Some people can recharge/relax watching TV or surfing the web. For me? Those are not restful and don't help. But writing? That's relaxing and refreshing for me - which is why I am comfortable writing this on vacation.

If you know what the specific causes are, generally you will have a good understanding as to how to solve them.


Your specific situation

If between work and personal growth you are working every day of the week - this is the root problem or a large part of it. Taking a 3 week vacation is a band-aid being applied to a gunshot wound. You have to address this problem to "fix" this situation.

Without knowing too much, I would do the following:

  • Find what benefits from your personal growth can be useful for your current job and discuss with your manager how you can incorporate those into your work. Perhaps it is a training activity or career growth, etc. Different companies will have different "key words" here.
  • Stop working every day of the week. You need a break. If you can't take a long break, at least give yourself one day a week to do refreshing/relaxing things.
  • Figure out what lets you be refreshed/relaxed and do this frequently. Also figure out what does not and stop doing it. As people, we do the dumbest things - "I want to relax so I'll do XXX even though it doesn't let me relax."
  • Take shorter vacations and don't work on them. Don't take vacations from one work to work elsewhere.
  • Great answer. I think that it also helps in some other office problems. – samarasa May 11 '13 at 16:40
  • very true "I want to relax so I'll do XXX even though it doesn't let me relax." – swapnesh May 11 '13 at 16:59
  • fantastic answer for answering the right question when OP did not realize to ask it. – user1084 May 13 '13 at 14:59
4

A few additions to enderland's great answer.

Executive Summary

You cannot force your employer to grant you extended leave without any effect to your career with that company. Depending on how important the leave is to you, there are a bunch of strategies you can use to try to change their minds. At the end of the day, you will need to decide if it is worth losing your job over this, and choose wisely.

Check Your Contract

Read your contract to see what it says about leave.

  • Is the employer allowed to dictate when you take leave?
  • What happens to leave if it cannot be taken?
  • What happens to leave on termination of employment?

If the employer is allowed to decide when you take leave, they have a contractual right to deny you taking leave at a certain time, which would mean they have the right not to allow you to take a long break.

At the same time, if your leave does not roll over to the next period, and/or you can never take the amount of leave dictated in your contract, then you have a slightly stronger case to argue (why give me X days if I can only use X - n days per year?).

In the worst case, if your contract is terminated, what rights do you have for remaining days (are they added to your leave period, are they paid out upon termination, are they lost, etc.)?

Before you figure out how to tackle the issue, be sure you know what your contract says your rights are. If you are within your rights to take an extended leave with notice to your employer and they are still denying it, you may have legal recourse (consult with a lawyer), but that will likely sour your relationship with the employer.

Ways to Convince Your Boss to Change His/Her Mind

If you aren't keen on taking legal action, and/or your contract doesn't allow it, you'll need to change your boss' mind. Here are a few ways you could try to do that.

Determine why your boss doesn't want to give you leave

Have an honest discussion with your boss about what the issues are with taking leave. Is it because things are particularly busy now? Is it because the department is understaffed? Is it because there is nobody equipped to handle your workload while you're gone?

Once you figure out why he doesn't want to provide it, you can work on solving those issues by waiting for a better time, training someone to take over while you're gone, or trying to figure out when the staff will fill out better.

The point is to determine what the reason is behind denying your request, and then doing your best to eliminate it. No guarantees that will get you the leave, but it is the obvious first step.

It may be the case that the company just likes to be stingy with leave, in which case you should skip the next suggestion. One way to find that out would be to see if anyone in the office has ever been granted an extended leave of the length you want to get. If so, it probably isn't against company policy.

Call Upon a Higher Power

If you still can't get permission because the problem can't be fixed (or the problem is that your boss just doesn't want to), you can try escalating it a rank. You can send an e-mail to your boss' boss, CC'ing your boss, explaining something like:

Hey boss' boss, I have a lot of leave saved up and would like to take an extended vacation. Unfortunately our team has a pretty significant workload and my manager can't spare losing me for several weeks. If any other team has some additional manpower, is there any chance we can make use of that to make sure the work gets done during my absence?

Be careful going over your boss' head, as it likely won't make him/her too happy. Be sure not to make your boss look bad, and imply that he is making this decision to look out for the company's interests though he really wants to grant your request.

If your company policy is to try to grant employee requests within reason, your boss will have a rough time explaining why you should be chained to your desk and not given leave, and will probably go the path of least resistance working with his/her boss to find a way to cover while you're gone.

If Push Comes to Shove...

As mentioned, your company may just be stingy at granting leave. If that is the case, you need to decide if you're willing to lose your job over this. If you are, then here are a couple suggestions. (If not, you need to accept that you cannot take a long leave, and take things from there).

Just take it

Send an e-mail to your manager informing him/her that you will be taking leave from date X to date Y (however many weeks you want within your contractually allowed leave), making sure that you are giving ample time for the company to prepare for that leave (don't say you will be leaving from 4 weeks tomorrow).

Hey boss, as you know I have 45 days of leave saved up. I will be taking vacation from July 1 to August 31 (40 working days). Over the next 6 weeks, I will be happy to get someone up to speed on my work so it goes smoothly while I'm gone.

In the worst case they will fire you and/or will not take you or your career path seriously after you come back. In the best case they will just let you take the leave because it is easier than finding someone to replace you (bearing in mind that butting heads with your manager probably isn't the best idea for career growth in any case).

Offer an ultimatum

If your boss refuses the above request or asks you to meet, you can raise the stakes a bit. You can tell them that you will take your leave or use your rights under your contract to have it paid out and give your notice on the spot.

Hey boss, I understand you don't want to give me the leave, but I really need to take it for personal reasons. If you aren't willing to grant it, I'll need to give my notice, and the company will have to pay out those days anyway.

This is not going to get you a recommendation letter, but it will put your boss in the rough spot of having to scramble to find a replacement for you, or of having to grant you the leave (at the minimum to give him more time to find a replacement).

  • Note that is in the "if you're willing to risk being fired" section. – jmac May 13 '13 at 15:28
  • Actually sometimes employers respond better to statements than requests. The problem here is he has already asked. For other people working for that firm that is probably the the way to attempt it. – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 14 '13 at 17:43

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