I have always pushed myself to the limit. I hold myself to high expectations and live in constant fear of failure (whatever that is), or even worse, mediocrity and boredom. To prevent this, my mind is forever in search of stimulation – career challenges, classes, books, games, adventures… This neurosis is what has made me successful in many areas of my life, but it is also what leaves me feeling empty and unhappy if I neglect my spiritual happiness.
When I feel depleted, I have to take time to unplug and get away. Vacations are my therapy. They allow me to relax my mind and contemplate my life from new vantage points. Vacations remind me that the world isn’t just about Mara. I am simply one being in a very beautiful and complex world. This perspective helps to relieve my stress and self-induced need to achieve more, and more, and more. Soon, my happiness returns and my creativity increases. I carry around a journal to capture all of new ideas that flood my mind.
Vacations also allow me to connect with my family, and there is nothing more precious in the world than that! Spending uninterrupted time with my husband and daughter grounds me and reminds me of my priorities. My career is gratifying and significant, and I would never trade it. However, what is most important is the time, energy and love that I put into nurturing my relationships. That is the center of my cosmos.
I was reading an article about the importance of vacations for creative professionals. What saddened me was how few people actually use all of their vacation time or refuse to completely unplug from work while they are away from the office. A recipe for burn out.
If you haven’t taken a vacation for a while, we have some strategies to help you make the most of your time away. Even a couple of days in a new environment can be magical. Just spend time being present. Here are some tips to ensure that you can vacation without worry:
1.) Prepare your work team, clients and vendors for your vacation. Delegate important projects to trusted colleagues and staff members, and brief them on what will need to be covered while you are away. Don’t hesitate to introduce clients and vendors to team members who can assist during your short absence. If you work from your home, be sure to inform family, friends, and helpers, who can take care of things while you are away.
2.) Give others some credit. Sometimes we can be a little self-involved and believe that we are the center of the Universe. It is important to remember that successes in life are usually the result of a team effort. In my office, I know that my team members are incredibly talented and capable people who can problem solve while I am away, especially if I have done a good job of prepping them on projects. The world doesn’t begin and end with me. Others are able to carry on while I am gone.
3.) Establish vacation guidelines and stick to them. For example, prior to departure, I let my family know that I won’t be checking work email or voicemail during our vacation; however, my staff may call or text me if there is an emergency, and those calls I will have to answer. At other times of the year, if there is an important project in play, I may limit work communications to a specific hour, usually before my family is out and about for a day of fun. That gives me time to check in without being consumed by work stress. All of this ensures that I am maximizing time with my family.
4.) If you get the craving to email, text, or Facebook, get out into nature for a new perspective. Walking new paths, snorkeling, sailing, and running can do wonders for relaxing the mind. Often times on quiet hikes, I will go through problems in my mind and look for new solutions. The quiet and solitude help me reflect in deeper ways than I could have in a hurried office.
5.) Give yourself a bridge day. This is the day between your vacation and your return to work. On this day you can casually read and respond to email, call your team to check-in, and start scheduling meetings, lunches and work blocks for the next week, while still spending time with your family.
Whatever you do to manage your workload, just make sure to take a break and dedicate some “away” time for your health and creative edge. In the end, your family, your body, your mind, and your work will thank you.
Looking for more? Check out this post on the health benefits of friendship.