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Why You Should Take A Vacation Before Starting A New Job

Yes, you should negotiate your start date. Taking time off between jobs will make you more productive.

Why You Should Take A Vacation Before Starting A New Job
[Photo: Flickr user Arol Viñolas]

You’ve just landed your dream job and can’t wait to start. You’ve negotiated your salary, your title, your benefits, and now it’s just time to negotiate one last thing: your start date.

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Yes, you should negotiate your start date.

Too often, I hear about friends packing up their things at one job on a Friday and starting in a new office the following Monday. When I ask why they didn’t take a buffer break in between the two, they tell me: “My new manager really wanted me to start ASAP.” “I’m afraid I’ll be behind if I take time off.” “I don’t know what I’d do with that time off anyway, so might as well just get started!”

This is when I throw my hands up in the air.

It is incredibly important to take a break before you start a new job. Even a break can come with major benefits–benefits that will make you a lot more productive at your new job.

Here’s why:

Context Switching Is Taxing

It takes a lot of brainpower to switch between modes constantly. This is why multitasking makes us tired, and isn’t as effective as everyone believes it to be. There is a cognitive load to entering a new context, to transferring your behaviors from office A and adapting them to the new norm at office B. It’s mentally taxing–so you should take time to prepare for that.

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You Need Time To Reflect

If you know your work habits ahead of time, you’ll be better equipped to adapt them to your new environment when the time comes. What did you learn at your last job? What strategies were effective, and which failed? Which do you want to bring to your new office, and which do you hope to discard?

Take the time to identify what worked, what didn’t, and how you will approach similar challenges in your new job before you get there. Once you’re in, you’ll be grappling with a whole slew of extra things to think through: like new office politics and new email systems.

You Deserve A Fresh Start

And by fresh, I mean one in which you are refreshed! It’s hard to make a good first impression if you show up on Day One already stressed, or still answering emails from your previous employer. The gap between cutting the ties and starting anew is a great time to center yourself, find your best self, and lead with that when you’re ready.

So now that I’ve convinced you that a break in between gigs is a must, how do you make the most of your time off?

Pick a Vacation That Relaxes You

There is no rubric for this. Pick a place and a journey that will relax you. For some, this means traveling abroad for a few weeks, for others, it means going home to visit family for a few days. For still others, it means staying right at home, sleeping in, and enjoying a staycation that rarely comes your way.

Choose Activities That De-Stress

A bike ride, a massage, a stack of tomes by the beach. Give yourself headspace to decompress and not think about work. Pay attention to the world around you instead, let your mind wander, and get zen.

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Spend Some Time Alone

While you are no doubt making career changes thanks in part to the support of loved ones and mentors, the transition to a new job is ultimately about you–so take some time to be alone and reflect on what the next phase of your career will mean for you. What are your goals? What are you afraid of? How will you know you’ve succeeded? A little introspection can go a long way in helping you feel ready–and excited–about your new job.

Do A Little Back-To-School Shopping

Like it or not, on your first day, all eyes are on you. On a day when everything else seems foreign, you’ll want to feel you. Buy yourself something nice.

About the author

Ximena Vengoechea is a design researcher, writer, and illustrator whose work on personal and professional development has been published in Inc., Newsweek, and the Huffington Post. She currently works at Pinterest as a qualitative researcher.

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