Volume 84 | Issue 4
July/August 2016

From the President: AAAAAAHHH ... Vacation!

J. Scott Derrick
ACUI President J. Scott DerrickI am sure some of you are reading this article while resting and relaxing wherever your vacation has taken you. Okay, now seriously, if you are actually doing that, please stop. While I applaud you for being diligent about your professional development, making ACUI a priority, and attempting to garner some nugget of useful information that might assist you in your job or career, I have to say, “Take a break, will you?!” Taking work on a vacation—in any form—essentially defeats the entire purpose of that time away from the office and could actually make you less productive in the long run. Let’s analyze this a bit, shall we?

As a kid, I remember fondly our family vacations, annually visiting Myrtle Beach for a long weekend in the early summer and then visiting the Great Smoky Mountains just prior to the start of the school year. For me, even at an early age, this was a break from routine, and, without really knowing it at the time, a good way to reset my mind and body to be prepared for the long months of work ahead. By the time I had made it through 12 years of school and four years of my undergraduate experience, followed immediately by two more years of graduate school and time into my first job, I had adopted a pattern of work that drove me to try to succeed and accomplish, no matter the cost. While I took a few days here and there to get away, I never really allowed myself to even think about taking any extended vacation due to the misguided belief that doing so would blunt my career progress and make me look weak to those I was trying to impress. Even when I did take time off, I stayed in touch and remained available for work. I had developed an unhealthy pattern and found myself feeling burned out and unproductive, to a point of experiencing emotional as well as physical repercussions. Does this sound familiar?

Luckily, I had some great friends and colleagues, as well as a supportive wife, who intervened and helped me see how counterproductive these habits were. I needed to find opportunities to really get away and disconnect, and that is how I became a huge fan of cruises. At the time (this has now changed), once you were on a cruise ship, your phone service and connection to the rest of the world was lost, and that actually forced me to stow all thoughts of calendars, student unions, concerts, and the like and simply relax and enjoy friends, family, and life. Today, if I ever get a chance to go on a cruise, I take it, and it is the most therapeutic, cleansing, and reinvigorating experience imaginable. When I come back to work, a part of me is still sailing on the ocean and playing on the beaches of the Caribbean, which facilitates perspective and helps me be a more productive member of my team at work. If the rigors of my daily routine get me down, or if there are multiple pressing matters that demand my attention, I go back in my mind to a cruise that was particularly exciting or relaxing and everything becomes more manageable.

So now you know the secret of much of my positivity and how the Dean of Fun keeps his title. But what is the lesson here for you, the Bulletin reader on the beach? It is simply this: We are only here on this Earth for a short time, so I have come to believe that a life lived for work is not a life fully lived. I have noticed that many of our younger professionals are coming to the work force with a better work/life balance than some of us more “seasoned” professionals, so I am glad that somewhere along the way, the message is getting through. I urge everyone to take time away from your job, away from your volunteer responsibilities, and away from your daily grind, and find that vacation or haven that can bring you joy. Your job will still be waiting when you get back. And you might just be better prepared to make a bigger difference and a greater impact when you return. So, put the Bulletin down, lather on some more sunscreen, relax, and put your mind at ease. Let me know how it goes, but wait until I get back from my cruise! J. Scott … OUT!