Question: When I take a vacation I can’t seem to stop thinking about work. We go to fun places but my mind is in overdrive about work things and I don’t really enjoy my downtime. How do I change this?
Answer: It sounds like I used to be you. I can remember a number of vacations early in my career where I would actually feel guilty for being gone. We’d be engaged in vacation activities and I’d have to stop and call the office to see what was “blowing up.” I would worry whether or not something so monumental might happen that I’d be fired the moment I jumped back in the trenches. My vacations weren’t particularly fun because I would return with my stomach tied up in knots. As a result, I took fewer vacations because I thought I’d score points with my boss and I wouldn’t have to deal with the agony of being gone. Sounds messed up – right?
I don’t think anyone will argue with the fact that we need time to re-charge our batteries periodically. But our batteries aren’t like those of a car. When a car is being driven, the battery is being continuously charged. Our batteries are like that of a small appliance. Plug us in; charge us up; unplug us, and we’ll go for quite a while. And think about the car analogy for a moment – eventually the car battery wears out and simply dies. Then it has to be replaced. We don’t have the luxury of replacing our “batteries” because we die too.
Life balance is the key. Of course it’s the new buzzword but it’s absolutely a valid concept. We simply cannot do our best and be the best that we can be if our lives are one-dimensional. Vacations are critical to helping develop the balance we need. It doesn’t matter if it’s a series of short mini-vacations or a few longer ones, the whole point is to get away from the regular routine. I take several vacations each year where I spend time on the computer and phone but put it all on hold for a fun activity of some sort during the course of each day. Then once a year I “drop out” for a couple of weeks. We go to a tropical island and just play. No phone, no computer, no TV, no newspaper – just sun, fun and togetherness time with my bride. And the minute I sit down on the airplane, I turn off all aspects of work.
To get the most of a vacation we need to give ourselves permission to have fun. Think about this. As entrepreneurs we’re driven all of the time. So it’s time to lighten up and enjoy!
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.