I stand on the porch and look out into the woods. I feel my shoulders release their tension just a little bit more.
It’s the 5th day of our vacation and I’m still feeling my muscles release stress.
Four months earlier I was at a conference and while I was there I was trying to be everywhere at once. I wore myself out.
After the conference was over I took a long morning to myself before I headed to the airport. I told myself that this was “ME” time. I was fooling myself. I was just too exhausted to do anything, but get a cup of coffee and stare into space.
I Was A Fraud
After trying to do a little work on the plane. I closed my laptop. Closed my eyes. I was a fraud.
How could I tell other people not to push too hard without taking the time to reflect and recharge?
I forgot how important it was to take a vacation.
You need short breaks throughout the day and long breaks throughout the year.
Too much work stifles your creativity.
I go to 4-5 conferences a year to speak and network. It’s an adventure, but it doesn’t leave much time for reflection. I also take long weekends with my family. I like to think of these as vacations, but they really aren’t. These are good to do, but don’t help me recharge my internal battery. It’s more of a quick charge.
It’s why I stopped trying to work on Sundays. I use this time for reflection and recharging my mind and body.
I had been working very hard for the past 12 months. I hadn’t thought about a vacation. We had one planned for the summer, but I really intended to work through a lot of it.
Right now I’m on vacation. Yes, I’m writing this on vacation because writing is very important to me capturing and improving on my ideas.
It’s the grind of billing, invoicing, setting up calls, marketing, social media, and everything it takes to grow my businesses that is draining. It all adds up throughout the year. Each thing is like a small little weight that sits on my shoulders.
So now as I’m writing these thoughts to help you, I realize how important it is for you to understand the importance of a long vacation. A long vacation to let these little weights fall off your shoulders.
At First It’s Painful
I felt anxious that I wasn’t responded back to clients within a few hours.
I kept reaching for my phone to check it out of habit.
I felt the need to stay busy.
Then I made a conscious decision to be smart about this vacation. I watched how when I grabbed my phone it was to avoid feeling anxious. So instead I just became a watcher of these thoughts and feelings.
I stopped getting angry at myself for wanting to do great work. I also stopped allowing email to ease my anxiety. Late July to mid August is a slow time of year for me. It’s ok for me not to respond back within a few hours. I told all my clients that this would be my vacation. No one asked me to be available. They all said. Have a great vacation. They knew what I forgot. The importance of taking a long vacation.
Two days ago I went to the beach without a laptop and I checked my email once and didn’t respond to anything. Five days ago I went to the Castle playground in Doylestown, PA with my father and 5-year-old, then got a burger, library, a nature hike, then a glass of beer and a nice meal with the family.
Starting to Unwind
It’s took all five days for me to start relaxing and unwind.
Of course daily Yoga helps too.
This morning I took a hike with my 5-year-old son and picked raspberries. These thoughts started to bubble and I wrote a note into my phone to take a couple hours to write this post.
Your brain needs to play. Adventure gives you the freedom to play with your thoughts and take them in all different kinds of directions. This can only happen with extended play. You won’t unwind with a long weekend. It takes awhile to let go of the work, stress, anxiety to allow you to see clearly.
From an unofficial pole from my coaching clients it seems like day 5 is when the tension really starts to unwind.
What can you do to extend your next vacation. If you were going to take a long weekend, try taking 5-6 days. If you were going to take a week try taking 10 days. I understand if you can’t extend the next one, but start planning a long vacation now. It will make you happier and after it’s over you will have an extra bounce in your step when you get back.
The important part is not to ignore the thoughts that bubble up on vacation. Get them out and get them down.
You don’t need to start up a new project or dive into work. Just write down what thoughts and feelings bubble up and come to mind so you don’t forget them. You’ll probably come up with a few new ideas that you’ll be excited to use when you get back to work.
Now go and plan your next long vacation and let yourself truly relax and watch what happens. Then come back here and share it with me.
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