<How long has it been since you had a real vacation? Do you tend to book vacation when you're long overdue for one? And how well is that working for you?
Well, you're not alone. Many working professionals have a love/hate relationship with holiday time.
On the one hand, you get a small break from the crazy that you call work. You get to experience life again, unrestricted by the office, the hours, the deadlines. The only deadline that suddenly matters is the one in which your flight leaves town. Ahh….so nice.
But with vacation comes the burden of being full-tilt busy preparing for your time off. You work extra hours to get things in a "good place" before you leave. You may even be required to complete work before you go. And what's really bugging you is that if don't do all the things you feel you should, you'll have a storm of problems waiting for you when you return. It's a double-edged sword. No one wants to deal with that inbox when they return.
So here's my suggestions on how to truly take your vacation this year. You've earned it.
Set and manage your expectations
What’s a priority before you leave? What can wait til you return? Once you remove all the “nice to have” activities from your plate, what’s really important that gives you peace of mind before you leave town? If you don’t know the priority from your boss, find out. And also be sure to tell others you will be unplugged. If you give a wishy-washy “I’ll have occasional access to email,” you’re already setting yourself up to work remotely rather than vacation.
Wind down prior to leaving
If you’re burning the midnight oil the night before you go, you’ll be zonked the first few days of your trip. As a former management consultant, I would actually need about 3 days while on vacation to get into vacation-mode. Wind down before, get extra sleep and most of all, stop working the moment you get on that plane.
Determine what you want out of the vacation, plan accordingly
Ahead of time, really consider what the vacation means to you. What do you want to experience? What would need to happen for you to really enjoy yourself? While a detailed project plan is overkill, visualizing a few todos is a small action that can create a more meaningful experience for you. What’s the consequence of not experiencing the vacation you need?
Avoid the #1 mistake that may ruin your vacation
So you’ve following this guide for the three steps listed. Read this last one carefully – now you need to actually take the vacation. According to google’s dictionary, a vacation is “an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.” I don’t see the word “work” here at all. Do you?
So this year for your next true vacation, take these steps and be kind to yourself. Unplug from work because you can. It’s ok. I won’t tell.
I unplug for vacation at least twice a year, and each time it feels even more liberating than before. Everything can wait until I return. My process is to check email until the out of office is turned on. From that moment, I turn off the monitor and data plan on my phone. I make an agreement with myself to unplug for the duration of the trip and replug on a specific date. Just give it a try. We used to get along without being so connected…so who says you can’t have that now? (Historically, that would be you, my friend).
If you’ve struggled with taking vacations, send me your comments. I’d love to hear what’s worked for you, and what you’d like advice on!
JESSICA MANCA is a certified coach, author, entrepreneur and former management consultant. Jessica founded Managing Mindspaces, a professional coaching firm, providing sensible career and life coaching services to professionals making life-changing decisions.
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