I took a week-long vacation three weeks ago. I really took time off. Before we left, my husband asked me how much I planned to work during the week we were off. I negotiated one hour a day – just in case. You know, as leaders, we really do thrive on being needed, being accessible and being “on”. I had everything covered; I moved meetings; I accomplished quite a bit before I left. On Thursday of the week away, I did have some work that needed to be done in preparation for the coming week I would return. I worked for about 90 minutes. Besides returning a few emails during the week (less than what I could count on two hands), I really did rest and rejuvenate.
Typically, I take about 4 weeks off a year. In 2020, I didn’t take the trips we had planned, and as a result, I did not take the time off I expected to take. I was weary. I was going at it, plugging along, and serving my clients. Since I have been back, I have realized a newfound energy for my work. I have found an enthusiasm that was not there the several months leading up to my time away. I am able to do more, do it more effectively, do it more efficiently and be present in a way that was missing right before my time off. My clients haven’t changed. My clients’ issues have not changed. My attitude has. My ability to focus and listen and hear them has. I attribute that to taking a real break from my work for a length of time.
As Americans and as leaders we often use our stressful calendar and our overworked-ness as a badge of honor. It isn’t serving us. Take the vacation. In the early 1900’s businesses gave 15-minute breaks to workers, not because they had to, but because the workers were actually more productive if they took the break. It wasn’t soft hearted; that break was totally capitalistically driven. Take the break. If you want to achieve more, be happier doing it and do it with ease, take the break.
My wish for you is Peace. You can find it more easily if you really take that break.