Why You Should Take A Vacation

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Looking back on our family vacations early in my career, I had a couple of really big issues to overcome.  1) I would sit at a resort poolside and be up, down and fidgeting like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.  I actually had to learn to relax.  2) I felt guilty about taking time off from work and worried about what was happening or piling up – the whole trip!  I finally figured out that almost everyone took vacations; everyone had stuff pile up while they were gone and everyone survived returning to work.  It was OK to take time off.

So let’s talk about you!  We’re about half way through summer.  August is often the best month to take some time off.  When and where are you going?

If you’re not, why not?  Too much to do at work?  Feeling guilty about taking time off from work?  You’re a leader and can’t take the time away?  Not sure where to go?

I strongly encourage you to consider getting away from work for at least some time off.  Why?  Because you need it!  Vacations are critical to keeping you performing at the best level you can, especially for high-achievers like you.  You can’t burn it at both ends forever without refilling your tank.

So here’s some thoughts on how you can actually take some time, recharge the batteries and come back refreshed, ready to defeat whatever’s in your way:

*Choose A Flavor That Appeals To You Right Now – Vacations come in many different flavors.  There’s active/play trips, outdoor/nature trips, ones that are all about seeing different places, time with family, learning something new, stay-cations where you just do day trips or even just a rest and relaxation trip.  There’s no wrong answer.  Just pick one that best suits your need right now.

*Don’t Feel Guilty – Maybe your boss is one of those people who constantly reminds you she has seven years of vacation time accrued because she never goes away and that’s making you feel guilty about taking the time.  That’s her problem, not yours.  They give you vacation time for a reason – take it.

*Get Caught Up Before You Leave – Even if you have to work late a few nights before you leave, you’re going to rest better knowing you’ve done the best you could to lay the ground-work for walking out the door and not thinking about work until you return.

*Delegate Authority So You’re Covered While You’re Gone – If you don’t have anybody working for you, this may not be important. But if you’re a leader and you have people counting on you for decisions, it’s up to you to set this up.  Delegate your decision making to a trusted person and put out an email announcing it before you leave.  A little pro tip here too:  If you don’t have someone who you can count on while you’re gone you’ve built a crappy team!  Fix that when you get back!

*Unplug & Set Expectations – Make sure your voicemail and email notifications are turned on (you know, those “annoying to everyone but you” out-of-office messages).  Tell people you’re not going to be checking messages. Tell them what to do in case of an emergency and when you’re returning.  And most importantly while you’re gone, step away from the smartphone and laptop – uh, uh I saw that….put it away!

*Block Out a “Catch up Day” for Your ReturnOn the day you come return from vacation, don’t have any meetings or appointments.  It will be an unproductive, fire-hose kind of day.  The instant you step in the door half the office will come walking in on you to see how your trip was and the other half will want to fill you in on what you missed while you we’re gone.  And you’ll also notice that a 5-ton dump truck pulled up to your email inbox and unloaded what seems like a year’s worth of stuff to go through.

So here’s the net, net.  Taking vacations and time off is really important.   It should be a fundamental part of your career plan for making yourself a high achiever and making sure you have the energy needed.  And don’t feel guilty about taking the time off.  In comparison to those who don’t, you’re the wise one.

So summer is half over.  Dust off the suitcases.  Where are you going next month?

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