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How to Stay Motivated at Work When Your Vacation Plans Are Canceled

A woman looking at her laptop, sad and burned out because her vacation is canceled.
Stokkete/Shutterstock

Many people use vacations as motivation at work. Make it through, and you’ll be on the beach at the end. But how do you stay motivated when your travel plans are disrupted and a flight to a sunny locale is out of the question?

Because of the pandemic, people are choosing (or being forced to) stay at home and spend what would otherwise be the most wonderful part of the year on their sofa and trying to tan on their balconies. Many people even decided to work throughout the summer and make better use of their vacation later in the year, when, fingers crossed, things will hopefully start going back to pre-COVID times.

Here’s how to deal with deferred plans, keep plugging along, and make the best of the situation.

Accept Things Are Different This Year

There’s nothing worse than waking up every day thinking how you should have been somewhere else, lying on the beach with a cocktail in your hand, wearing your favorite summer outfit, and listening to the laughter of your friends as they’re dancing to the background music, instead of having meetings and writing emails all day long.

Even though you’re feeling sad, take a moment to realize it’s not just you. The whole world is going through the same thing at the same time and accepting that this is a year you’re gonna have to do vacations differently is your only option to moving forward.

The sooner you accept your current situation, the better you’ll be able to make use of it. Just because you didn’t travel to an exotic destination doesn’t mean you can’t do something in your own city. Change the narrative and your mind will follow.

Schedule Afterwork Fun

A woman relaxing in a bathtub after work, decompressing from the stress of the day.
Breslavtsev Oleg/Shutterstock

To make the most out of your canceled vacation and try to turn it all around, you’ll have to grab that calendar and start scheduling. The more social and fun things you have written down, the better your motivation to actually get your work done will be.

Have something planned for each evening, even if your calendar says “Call Erica” or “Spa Time” and all you do is sit in your sweats and gossip with your friend or take a relaxing bubble bath.

While your calendar likely won’t be filled the same things it used to be filled with (like in-person dinners or meeting up for drinks), scheduled fun-time gives you something to look forward to each day.

Foster Gratitude, One Day at a Time

Canceling your vacation and still being able to work is a blessing in the current situation. So many people lost their jobs and are now struggling to find new ones, it’s good to have some perspective. Yes, it’s frustrating to have to cancel an awesome vacation you were looking forward to, but millions of people are desperate to even have a job to take a vacation from right now.

In hard times like these, it’s important to be grateful for what you have, instead of complaining about what you don’t. Keep that in mind the next time you get frustrated at your meeting thinking you’d rather quit and go to the beach.

At the end of the day, you’ll have to deal with each day as it comes. It’s normal to have good days and bad days even without the added stress of this year’s pandemic. Be patient with yourself and do your best to turn your day around. If in the end, that doesn’t happen, don’t feel bad. Accept it for what it is, and know that you get a new chance to do it differently tomorrow.


Most people look forward to vacation time all year long, so having to cancel it and work through the peak sunshine ‘n’ beach time of year isn’t fun. But with a little perspective shift and an emphasis on rewarding yourself daily, you can keep your motivation up and make it through to your next big vacation.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »

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