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This Is the One Thing Americans Regret Most About Their Careers

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A new study finds the same career regret in 74 percent of participants.

Bailey Bennett
October 11, 2017

While you might expect Americans’ biggest career regrets to include choosing the wrong career path or neglecting to negotiate their salary, a new study finds that the biggest regret of workers in this country actually stems from their time outside of the office.

According to a new study performed by Airfarewatchdog, the No. 1 career regret in the U.S. is not using all of one’s vacation days. In a study of about 2,500 people, Airfarewatchdog found that as of mid-September 2017, 63 percent had 10 or more vacation days left to use in this calendar year, while 75 percent had a week of unused days. They also found that 45 percent of all participants admit to not taking advantage of all of their vacation days, and 74 percent say they regret that fact.

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Additionally, the study found that the likelihood of leaving vacation days on the table increases as we age. While 62 percent of those in the first half of their careers say they take all of their vacation time, only 57 percent of workers in the second half of their careers can say the same, with the number dropping to 53 percent near retirement. However, while regret over not taking those days peaks in the latter half of one’s career, those who are nearing retirement feel less remorse over skipping vacation.

Who is to blame for the widespread trend? The study points to American work culture as a partial culprit, saying that 37 percent of participants did not feel encouraged by either their boss or their company to actually use all of those vacation days. However, 27 percent would still choose unlimited vacation over a 10 percent salary increase.

The pressure many Americans feel to work through their vacation days is causing some employers to take matters into their own hands, like the CEO of SimpliFlying, who insists his employees take a completely unplugged vacation for a full week every seven weeks. If they don’t leave work behind and get away, they won’t be paid for the week.

Here at T+L, we’re also trying to do our part to help with America’s vacation problem. If you’re one of the millions of workers neglecting your vacation days, these stellar travel deals we’ve put together through Operation Vacation might just change your mind.

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