taxes-tax-evasion-police-handcuffs“He took a vacation,” they whispered in hushed tones. “What will his colleagues and supervisors think?”

I smiled. Actually — correction — I smirked.

In an era of unlimited vacation time (but not actual vacation), too many of us are shackled to our office chair. We dream of that European sojourn.

“I will get there someday,” we say. But like those ill-fated New Year’s Resolutions, one year turns into the next. There is a(nother) sales call or dance recital interfering with our vacation plans. And, yes, interfering is the correct word. We are skillful at concocting any reason to postpone that well-deserved holiday.

Work is important. It provides a purpose — and a paycheck. But so is play. And when your play is your kid’s play date, well, it is time to cue up Momondo. Or the family minivan.

Easier said than done — particularly when your demanding boss is more ruthless than the Shark Tank cast. One Skift report found that 42 percent of Americans do not take any vacation.  

Despite your overbearing boss’s loud protestations, vacations are important. From improving your mental health to bettering marital relationships, vacations have a measurable impact on health and well-being. And, anecdotally, vacations enliven and inspire, providing a respite from our overstuffed lives.

For some of us — myself included, vacations provide meaning. From my travels, I fondly recall memorable sites and lasting friendships. When I am 75, what am I going to remember about my life? What will you? I suspect it will be lives touched, lessons learned, and adventures survived.  

But in order to play — and, in turn, be playful — you have to first complete an important assignment. For many of you, this assignment will be more difficult than any TPS report.

Here’s your homework: Discover your fun. That is it. But when I say this, I want you to think — seriously — about what your fun looks like. When you are in your element, are you discovering your inner namaste in nature or touring the fashionable galleries in a must-see neighborhood? And then devote yourself — like you slavishly devote yourself to that pedantic presentation — to achieving it. Even if it requires a couple of days — or, heaven forbid, a week away from that all-important job.

Let’s put it another way: How many hours, days, and years have you spent thinking about your company’s bottom line? Too many to count. How many hours, days, years have you spent thinking about your fun? Too few to count.

The new bottom line: your fun. That includes the occasional vacation. And — even better — one far away from those snickering ladies.